Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29: Belle's 5,464th Performance

On this day in 2007, Disney's Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast played its final performance. Ending its successful run on a Sunday at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York City, the show had officially debuted on Broadway back in April 1994 at the Palace Theater.
This last performance featured actress Anneliese van der Pol (known to Disney Channel fans from That's So Raven) as Belle. She had first stepped into the role back on April 3, 2007. Returning for the last evening's performance only was Donny Osmond as Gaston. He had first played the role back in September 2006 (for a successful 3 months).
The closing-night cast also included Steve Blanchard as The Beast, David de Vries as Lumiere, Glenn Rainey as Cogsworth, Jeanne Lehmann as Mrs. Potts, Jamie Ross as Maurice, Ann Mandrella as Babette, and Mary Stout as Madame de la Grande Bouche.
Steve Blanchard had first played The Beast in the Toronto Company in 1997 before coming to Broadway to actually play Gaston. When the production moved to the Lunt-Fontanne, he took over the role as The Beast! The "last candle standing," David de Vries had played the role of Lumiere in 4 different companies (in 42 different cities) before coming to Broadway.
Beauty and the Beast, which was based on Disney's 1991 animated film, featured the music of Alan Menken, Howard Shaman, and Tim Rice. The musical ran on Broadway for an amazing 5,464 performances - becoming Broadway's sixth-longest running production. During that time a total of 17 actresses played the role of Belle!
Walt Disney Theatrical Productions' musical had its world premiere at Houston's Theater Under The Stars in November 1993. It then opened on Broadway on April 18, 1994 at the Palace Theatre (located at 1564 Broadway in Manhattan, New York). The show ran there until September 5, 1999 after which the production moved to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (at 205 West 46th Street). Beauty and the Beast began performances at its new home on November 16, 1999. As of 2009 Disney's Little Mermaid is performed at the Lunt-Fontanne.
The success of the Broadway show enabled Disney to bring productions to Los Angeles, Toronto, London, the Netherlands, and dozens of other theaters all over the world. Beauty and the Beast has been performed in 19 different languages!

Click HERE for more July 29 Disney History.

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