I was invited for a sneak peek of Disney Cruise Line’s newest theater show, Beauty & the Beast, which debuts on the Disney Dream in November 2017. Go behind the scenes with me and learn more about this mesmerizing new show – Disney Cruise Line’s Beauty & the Beast.
It may be a tale as old as time, but Disney Cruise Line really knows how to make this story fresh & new. Yes, we have seen it animated, on Broadway, and even in a live-action film released just this past spring. But from the few numbers we had a chance to see in the dance studios in Toronto, there will be nothing “old” about this show.
Adapted from the live-action film, Beauty & the Beast brings the characters, the stories and music to life for audiences of all ages. It’s what I loved most about seeing the numbers danced in front of me, my favorite songs – especially Be Our Guest – come to life, allowing me to experience it live and up-close.
Disney Cruise Line’s Beauty & the Beast: Creating the Show
Surprisingly enough, the idea to bring Beauty & the Beast to stage started over a year ago…..before the movie was even released. Remember it was adapted from the live-action movie, but with no movie to see, storywriter, Sara Wordsworth (“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular”) was able to start with a blank page. She actually preferred it this way, as she only had the screenplay to adapt the show from. With no characters, costumes and visuals, she was able to form her own concepts for the show.
The show is told through Belle’s father, Maurice’s perspective. If you recall, in the movie, Maurice created beautiful music boxes and it is through a music box that the story is beautifully told. Though the story is condensed a bit to bring it to a cruise audience, all the classic songs are there, including 2 of the newest ones Alan Menken wrote for the film.
Once in Director & Choreographer, Connor Gallagher’s hands (known for DCL’s Tangled: The Musical), he was able to bring the iconic numbers to life in DCL’s dance studios in Toronto. With just 4 weeks of rehearsals under their belts, we saw several of the numbers and frankly, I was blown away with how good they were. With the costumes, the sets, and the full instrumental score stripped away, what we saw was pure talent. With just a piano and a few props, the cast performed “Belle”, “Gaston”, “Be Our Guest”, and “Something There”. Each song left me wanting more as the choreography was enchanting.
With so many settings to the story, set designer Jason Sherwood (“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular”) worked with video designer, Aaron Rhyne (“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular”) to utilize floor-to-ceiling LED panels to bring Belle’s village, the forest and the Beast’s castle to life, a concept never tried before on a cruise ship theater. And though we didn’t have a chance to see the panels while in Toronto, the set renderings look incredible.
Broadway costume designer, Sarah Cubbage, has had so much fun creating pieces for this show. I am especially excited to see the costumes for Be Our Guest, as the scene is based on a traditional 7-course French meal, with the cast dancing about as appetizers to desserts. Hearing more about the concept of this number – from the runway-converted-dining table to champagne bubbles floating about the room, I can’t wait to see this performance when it’s complete.
Disney Cruise Line’s Beauty & the Beast: The Cast
Although we only saw a select few numbers from the show in a small rehearsal hall, the cast didn’t need much to show us their pure talent. They danced right up to our feet as they utilized every inch of their “stage”. And with only piano, we heard each of their voices. I think many assume that stage productions done on the Disney Cruise Line are not necessarily “Broadway quality” and they are so mistaken. Each of the cast, from the principal characters to the ensemble, were triple threats, meaning they could sing, dance and act – and were all extremely talented.
Rather than elaborate costuming, the servants of the castle are puppets and it works very well. For example, Luminier is the size of a hand-held candlestick with an extremely talented cast member not only voicing the character, but controlling the puppet as well. It’s very seamless for the show, though I admit, I had a hard time choosing from watching the puppet to the actor’s facial expressions, both so good!
Disney Cruise Line’s Beauty & the Beast: Bringing it to the Disney Dream
The cast moves to the Dream at the end of the summer to begin rehearsals with the set and score and costumes. And seeing how good it was stripped down, I can only imagine how incredible it will be when it all comes together. The show will debut on the Disney Dream November 6, 2017 cruise out of Port Canaveral, FL. and will join two other established shows, “The Golden Mickeys” and “Disney’s Believe.” The Disney Dream sails three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, FL.
Watching one of my favorite animated Disney movies unfold live in front of me in Toronto was memorable. I was delighted to see the characters come to life, to see their facial expressions up close and see the talent come together so well. This show is going to be spectacular for young & old. The tale may be old, but the performance will leave you wanting more.
Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media event for Beauty & the Beast in Toronto. All opinions are my own.