Previewed 29 April 1997, Opened 13 May 1997, Closed 11 December 1999 at the Dominion Theatre
Disney's Beauty and The Beast in London - The Magic Comes Alive on Stage!
The story about Belle, a young woman in a provincial French town and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell by an evil enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed 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 eternity...
Disney's Beauty and The Beast, based on the animated 1991 Disney movie, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Woolverton.
The original cast featured Julie-Alanah Brighten as 'Belle', Alasdair Harvey as 'Beast', Di Botcher as 'Madame De La Grande Bouche', Richard Gauntlett as 'Lefou', Derek Griffiths as 'Lumiere', Barry James as 'Cogsworth', Mary Millar as 'Mrs Potts', Burke Moses as 'Gaston', Norman Rossington as 'Maurice', Rebecca Thornhill as 'Babette', and Ben Butterfield, Dayle Hodge and Simon Kennedy sharing the role of 'Chip', with Jude Barry, Adam Blaug, Lynsey Britton, Jacqueline Dunnley, Karen Evans, James Gray, Sylvia Griffin, Laurie Hagen, Kate Hamilton, Rachel Izen, Halcro Johnston, David Lee, David Lucas, Michael Magee, Thomas Paton, David Pendlebury, Zoe-Anne Phillips, John Polhamus, Sarah Ryan and Nick Tcherniak, along with Kathy Norcross, Nick Winston, Simon Bishop, Leigh Constantine, Robert Jon and Mandy Mayhew. Earl Carpenter as standby for 'Beast' and 'Gaston'.
Directed by Robert Jess Roth with choreography by Matt West, sets by Stanley A Meyer, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting by Natasha Katz, illusions by Jim Steinmeyer, and sound by Richard Sharratt.
The role of 'Belle' was played by Julie-Alanah Brighten from 29 April 1997 through to Saturday 24 April 1999, by Michelle Gayle from Monday 26 April 1999 through to Saturday 9 October 1999, and finally by Annalene Beechey from Monday 11 October 1999 through to Saturday 11 December 1999 when the show closed.
The role of 'Beast' was play by Alasdair Harvey from 29 April 1997 through to Saturday 24 April 1999, by John Barrowman from Monday 26 April 1999 through to Saturday 2 October 1999, and finally by Earl Carpenter from Saturday 4 October 1999 through to Saturday 11 December 1999 when the show closed.
This production had the (at the time) West End record-breaking box office advance of £5.6million prior to opening night.
When Michelle Gayle joined the cast as 'Belle' in April 1999 - making her West End stage debut - she introduced to London audiences the new song 'A Change In Me' which was especially written by Alan Menken and Tim Rice for when the international recording artist Toni Braxton joined the Broadway production of this musical. The song remained in this production through until it closed.
"The array of costumes is dazzlingly lavish, the pop-up book scenery jaw-droppingly immense, the special effects head-scratching. For all that, it still looks like a bloated out-of-season panto which never quite delivers the zany gothic enchantment of the movie... Amongst the evening's best moments is surely the delightful Busby Berkeley routine for a troupe of dancing plates and cutlery. But by the time the Beast has transformed back into the Prince the effects, head spinning at first, have long since swamped the fairy tale." The Daily Express
"Costing Disney some £10 million, Robert Jess Roth's staging of the animated cartoon is the most expensive musical ever mounted in London... There are stretches where you have to succumb. The show-stopping 'Be Our Guest' number is a gloriously frivolous extravaganza... It's a sequence that genuinely works better on stage than on film because, in the theatre, all this campery - the chorus girls wearing wobbly towers of tea cups; the staircases composed of plates; the high-kicking napkins; and the final explosion of fireworks from two giant champagne bottles that tilt in from the side - comes over like an exhilaratingly potty parody of Ziegfeld Follies and the notion that nothing succeeds like excess." The Independent
"Disney's £10 million Beauty And The Beast at London's Dominion Theatre is billed as 'the most expensive musical ever' - but it is simply the West End's costliest panto... The hairy beast, played by Alasdair Harvey, keeps the kids under their seats until he turns back into a handsome prince... Pretty, dark-haired Julie Alanah Brighton makes a winsome beauty as Belle... It's a one-song show - the title track is the only number that stays with you... But never mind the quality feel the glitz - special effects are breathtaking and the scenery and costumes deserve a standing ovation." The Daily Mirror
"Beauty and the Beast has nothing to do with the festive season itself, but the stage version of the wonderful Walt Disney 1991 animated film has all the qualities of the most super panto, plus extra lashings of good cheer and glitter and glitz enough to make the average Cinderella or Dick Whittington turn green... The performances are mostly as impressive. Newcomer Julie-Alanah Brighten is a sweet Beauty, Alasdair Harvey a touching (and only occasionally scary) prince-turned-monster and the American Burke Moses, repeating the role he played in New York, very nearly steals the show as Gaston, the arrogant suitor who's far more beastly than the Beast... A reminder that beauty isn't just skin deep, but that ugliness can be, Robert Jess Roth's production is a spectcular, sensational, sock-it-to'em extravaganza to thrill both kids and parents alike. Don't hesitate - be its guests." The News of the World
Disney's Beauty and The Beast in London at the Dominion Theatre previewed from 29 April 1997, opened on 13 May 1997, and closed on 11 December 1999