Mumbai: The cast already includes some of the finest talents in the country, like Bugs Bhargava who plays Cogsworth, Brian Tellis as Lumiere, Meher Mistry as Belle, and Edwin Joseph as the Beast. And now, Amitabh Bachchan has been roped in to record the prologue to the show.
For Bachchan, it is yet another feather in a saturated cap of multiple activities, and the difference between his first-ever film assignment as narrator of the 1969 Hindi film “Bhuvan Shome” and this 2015 international assignment is the language: English.
Bachchan said, “I am very happy to be a part of this pioneering effort to advance a new and unexplored format of entertainment in India.”
The first look of the show is out. For the first time ever, Disney will bring the timeless classic “Beauty and the Beast” to the Indian stage. Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this classic musical love story will be presented to Indian audiences on the same scale as the mega-productions seen on New York’s Broadway and on London’s West End. Over 100 of the best musical theater performers in India will bring the story alive onstage, with world-class production values, lavish sets and gorgeous costumes.
Having won the hearts of people across 28 countries, the musical has been completely developed locally, while retaining the original script and memorable music of the Broadway show. The production will be in English and is 130 minutes long with select shows across Mumbai and Delhi from October to December 2015.
Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” premiered on Broadway in 1994, where it was nominated for nine prestigious Tony Awards and ran for 13 years. It still ranks as one of the longest-running and highest-grossing Broadway shows of all time. Since its debut, the title’s visibility and success has expanded globally with subsequent productions produced around the world.
Since licensing of the title began in 2004, there have been productions in 28 countries that have been watched by more than 35 million people, translated into 17 different languages with over 28,000 performances equivalent to a run of 67 years, generating over $1.7 billion in revenue.
Originally produced on Broadway by Disney Theatrical Productions, it boasts of music by Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Tangled”) and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin”), with additional songs and music by Menken, and lyrics by Tim Rice (“The Lion King,” “Jesus Christ Superstar”).
Some eminent names involved in the Indian production will include Vikranth Pawar (show director and creative head, Live Entertainment at Disney India), Lesle Lewis (music direction), Terence Lewis (choreography), Varsha Jain (set design), Gavin Miguel (costume design), Pallavi Devika (hair and makeup) and Suzanne D’Mello (vocal training).
Disney’s creative team hand-picked 18 talented lead artistes who can sing, dance and act from over 8,000 entries after over 1,000 physical auditions across five cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. In Mumbai, the show will be performed at the Dome@NSCI, SVP Stadium, while in Delhi it will be held at Thyagaraj Sports Complex, each of which can seat about 2,500 people per show. The venues will be transformed into elaborate sets with a magical village area capturing Belle’s house (with a telescope), tavern and clock tower and the Beast’s castle area with Belle’s bedroom, royal dining area and balcony.
The show promises the most immersive Broadway scale experience wherein a select set of the audience will get the opportunity to be a part of all the action and experience the magic at 360 degrees (on swivel chairs).
Disney’s film and play is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end, and he will be transformed back to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all of eternity.
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2014 The Global Indian New Network (TGINN)