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Murray Journal

‘Beauty and the Beast’ comes to Murray Park Amphitheater

Jul 03, 2019 04:32PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

“Beauty and the Beast” is Murray Arts in the Park July production. (Photo courtesy of Murray Cultural Arts)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

There is nothing like a tale as old as time, especially the timeless tale of “Beauty and the Beast.” Murray Arts in the Park will bring to life one of Disney’s most famous animated movies and beloved Broadway musicals to the Murray Park Amphitheater Stage July 15-27 and 29-31. 

With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Woolverton, “Beauty and the Beast” is a family favorite that has played to more than 35 million people worldwide. 

The classic story unfolds of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. The arrogant young prince and his castle’s servants fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress and are physically transformed into a beastly monster and household items. 

If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end, and he and his servants will be transformed into their former selves. The spirited, headstrong village girl Belle enters the Beast’s castle after he imprisons her father, Maurice. With the help of his enchanted servants, Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of his isolation. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

When Walt Disney Pictures released the animated feature film in 1991 with a score by composer Alan Menken and the lyricist Howard Ashman, the film received much acclaim including Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Original Score and it made history as the only animated feature to ever be nominated for Best Picture. The film’s success led to calls for a theatrical adaption.

Linda Woolverton adapted her screenplay to the stage, adding new scenes to fill out the story for Disney Theatrical Productions. The Oscar-winning score was expanded to include several new songs by Menken and veteran lyricist Tim Rice. The musical ran on Broadway for over 13 years, totaling 5,461 performances, and ultimately became the seventh longest running musical in Broadway history.

Director Kjersti Parkes helms Murray’s production. She has been a theatre educator for 13 years at Hunter High, having directed over 30 shows including “1776” for Murray in 2016.

Hannah Roskelley, joins the cast as Belle along with Nathan Holcomb, who plays the Beast; Alex Montour as Gaston; Joey Hall as Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou; and Jeff Davis plays Belle’s endearing father, Maurice. The memorable collection of enchanted objects includes Matthew Bowden as Lumiere, Trax Decker as Cogsworth, Emily Voorhees as Mrs. Potts and Michelle Moore as Babette. 

“The last word I would use to describe the actors would be amateur. We have such a wide variety of experience, and everyone is top notch talent,” Parkes said. “So my role is to guide them according to my vision and then move out of their way and let them shine.”

Fans of the film will notice additional songs in the theatrical version. An entirely new song entitled "A Change in Me" was written specifically for Toni Braxton when the R&B singer joined the production in the role of Belle in 1998, and has been included in the musical ever since.

Audience members will notice the set production. “It’s a behemoth and we have limited space to create things, but we will make it work and it will be fantastic,” Parkes said. “At the heart of it ‘Beauty and the Beast’ explores the idea of what makes someone a Beast and what makes someone human.”

“Beauty and the Beast” will be presented at the Murray Park Amphitheater (495 E. 5300 South). Individual tickets are available at the Murray Parks & Rec Office (296 E. Murray Park Ave.) or at the amphitheater.