The story is an old one-it's been in print for nearly three centuries, and passed down for who knows how long before that-and, by now, the movie's been seen by generations, but the version of "Beauty and the Beast" that will grace the Community Arts Center stage May 8 and 9 is no mere knockoff of the Disney film, or any other preceding adaptation of the tale.
The 1991 movie was the first animated feature to garner an Oscar nomination for "Best Picture," along with winning trophies for "Best Song" and "Best Score," and the national touring production coming to the CAC, 220 W. Fourth St., does use much material from the iconic film.
Yet it's still a far different experience seeing the story told live, with new scenes written by original author Linda Woolverton and new music by original composer Alan Menken and lyricist Tim Rice.
PHOTOS By JOAN?MARCUS
Emily Behny as Belle and Dane Agostinis as Beast are seen in the production of “Beauty and the Beast”?that will come to the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., at 7:30 p.m. May 8 and 9 p.m.
The Sun-Gazette spoke to Bill Martin, who plays Maurice, Belle's father, about this incarnation of "Beauty and the Beast" and what goes into such a lavish national tour. Martin is a professor of musical theatre at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and spoke to the Sun-Gazette from Detroit, where the show was on a two-week run at the Fisher Theatre.
JOSH BROKAW: What differences should audiences expect from this "Beauty and the Beast," compared to the movie?
BILL MARTIN: Well, for example, "Human Again" wasn't part of the Disney movie and it was worked into the movie as an extra scene later. That's one song of several that are in the show that aren't in the movie. The thing that stands out most for me as an actor is that this was originally conceived as a cartoon, but we're not just assuming a cartoon-style interpretation; we're making the story happen for very real reasons.
JB: As a professor, how do you get into playing in a production like this?
BM: As part of my job, I serve on panels for a lot of different workshops. Through that, I got to know one of the casting associates for this show. Part of my job is to keep performing, and one thing led to another and I was invited to fill a niche that's hard to fill-the older actor, the father. I'm 39. There's a lot of professional actors my age who wouldn't want to be on a tour for that long. National tours are something I always thought my students would be doing, and some are, but here I am. The university gave me a leave of absence and it's a great opportunity.
JB: What's joining a tour that's already ongoing like?
BM: I went to New York and met with the assistant director and choreographer on March 13, and the next day I was in Denver, where I watched the show for three days and shadowed the actor playing my part. There were day rehearsals I was in on and by March 23, I think it was, I was in the show. Rehearsals weren't extended, but they were intense.
JB: How big is this production is this?
BM: I don't know exactly how many trucks we have-more than two. There's thirty in the cast. I had some friends come and see the show in Detroit and they said 'wow, you guys travel with all of that stuff?' There's great costumes, and a wonderful set that's just magical.
Tickets for "Beauty and the Beast" at the Community Arts Center are $40, $50 and $55 and available from caclive .com.