When Grammy winner Toni Braxton went into the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, I, for one was ecstatic! Toni is one of my favorite vocalists and she seemed a perfect fit for the hit show. However, this would not be my first run in with a Belle. I happened to be at a voice-over audition with the Original Susan Egan (who is absolutely adorable) and is the living embodiment of Belle.
Before Toni and Susan took this classic to the stage it was a Disney animated film that featured the voices of Robby Benson and Paige O’Hara in the title roles. Benson, was a 70’s heart-throb mostly know for the film Ice Castles and O’Hara a “Broadway Baby” having played such roles as Fantine in the hit musical Les Miserables. Both make a very good living as animated voice-over artists these days.
For those of you who have been under a rock for the last 20 years, this Disney classic tells the story of Belle. Belles’ father is imprisoned by the Beast and she offers to switch places with her Dad not realizing that the Beast is really a handsome Prince. Sound familiar?
It’s a lovely story and the title song is sung by Angela Lansbury in the film and was made into an R&B hit with Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.
Beauty and the Beast won two oscars…both of them going to Alan Menken, whose name has become synonomous with Disney through Aladdin, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Newsies, Tangled, Hercules, The Little Mermaid and the list goes on.
Beauty and the Beast went on to become a television series a few times and a feature film and this week celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Take a trip back and experience the Disney magic of Beauty and the Beast.
On May 9th, The Oscars hosted pre-screening discussion celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the first animated feature film to be nominated for Best Picture, featuring voice actors Angela Lansbury, Richard White, Paige O’Hara and Robby Benson, producer Don Hahn, director Gary Trousdale and supervising animators Andreas Deja, Mark Henn and Glen Keane, key story artist Brenda Chapman. Presented in nostalgic 70mm as it was originally shown in its premiere engagements.