MANCHESTER, NH – It’s no coincidence that “Beauty and the Beast” was the first Disney animated classic to be translated to a live Broadway show. It truly is a story old as time – in some form or fashion, the story of indisputable love conquering all dates back to Greek mythology.
Marissa Rivera, as Belle, is reveling in the character her little-girl dreams were made from.
“I always wanted to play Belle. I was 15 yeas old and singing these songs in my room into my hairbrush, just dreaming of being Belle – this is one of my top dream roles, and one I thought I’d never get to play,” says Rivera.
The secret sauce of staging such a popular Disney classic for a live audience is the cast dynamic.
“As much as we all admire the movie, we try to put it out of our heads and look at the character on the page. We all know and love Belle and Beast, but an audience wants to see something a little different on the stage,” Rivera says. “We still pay homage to the original version, but the finished product is unique in and of itself.”
The key to playing Belle is for her character to be as real as a spunky storybook heroine can be.
“The director was talking to me about that during rehearsals, that he wanted Belle to be the most relatable. He doesn’t want me to put on something over the top – we have Gaston and the others who do that beautifully, which allows Belle to be more real,” Rivera says.
Playing the Beast is Jared Troilo, no stranger to the Palace stage – he’s appeared in a string of recent favorites, including Saturday Night Fever, Les Miserables, Godspell, West Side Story, Grease, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Troilo says his approach to portraying the Beast includes a little bit of psychology.
“I’ve been working on two different characters, the exterior animalistic stomping and screaming Beast, but also spending time figuring out who is underneath all that,” Troilo says. “He’s a man who made a mistake and now has to suffer his entire life – that’s what makes it relatable; we all make mistakes. I can’t imagine having to live as a creature just because I made a mistake as a boy, so there’s a lot of emotion underneath the surface.”
As the story goes, the Beast was once a prince who refused to give shelter to an old beggar woman in exchange for a rose. Instead, the boy scoffs at the old woman’s appearance. When he dismisses her again, the old woman transforms into a beautiful enchantress, and casts a spell on the boy to teach him a lesson – about being deceived by outward appearances, when true beauty lies within.
That is the storyline that brings Belle to the castle of the Beast: He has imprisoned her father, Maurice, portrayed in the Palace production by Marc Willis, another Palace alum of recent shows including 42nd Street, Hairspray, A Christmas Carol, The Producers, All Shook Up, and Les Miserables.
“This cast is a mix of actors who’ve been here before as well as new performers, and the mix of that has brought a new joy to this cast. Rehearsals have been magical, and Carl Rajotte’s choreography is outstanding – even more exciting and exuberant than past productions I’ve had the pleasure of performing in,” says Willis.
When asked to name his favorite production number, Willis knows immediately.
“‘Be Our Guest’ will blow everyone out of their seats,” Willis says. “I hear there’s confetti involved.”
Beauty & The Beast is now showing at the Palace Theatre. Tickets are $39-46. Children are $25.
Click here now to reserve the best seat in the house for any of the remaining performances (see below.)
- Friday September 14, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday September 15, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday September 15, 2018 2 p.m.
- Sunday September 16, 2018 2 p.m.
- Friday September 21, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday September 22, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday September 22, 2018 2 p.m.
- Sunday September 23, 2018 5 p.m.
- Sunday September 23, 2018 12 p.m.
- Thursday September 27, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Friday September 28, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday September 29, 2018 2 p.m.
- Saturday September 29, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday September 30, 2018 2 p.m.