For its annual holiday musical showcase, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre opens its original production of the much-loved Broadway musical “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” on Friday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. The magical, funny and romantic family show, directed by the Rep’s artistic associate Brad Mooy, continues through Jan. 1.
The musical, based on the award-winning 1991 animated movie (two Oscars, three Golden Globes and two Grammys), opened on Broadway in 1994 and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning for best costume design. It’s the fairy tale story of young Belle, who dreams of adventures beyond her quiet village. When her father doesn’t return from a local fair, Belle discovers he is being held prisoner by a hideous Beast. After trading her freedom for her father’s, Belle gradually teaches The Beast to love and the “tale as old as time” begins. The show includes the well-known songs “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston,” “Something There” and the main theme, all written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, with eight additional songs written by Menken and Tim Rice.
The Rep’s cast numbers 32 actors, including eight local youths, and an artistic staff and crew of 30, making it the Rep’s biggest musical undertaking in its 30-year history. Production work began in March and the show includes more than 90 original costumes designed by the Rep’s production manager, Rafael Colon Castanera. Christopher McCollum is the guest set designer.
Holly O’Brien (Belle), Mika Duncan (The Beast) and Jonathan Burgard (Gaston) are making their Rep debuts. O’Brien has played Belle in two other productions. Duncan has Off-Broadway and daytime TV credits. Ron Wisniski, who plays Lumiere, performed in the national tour of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Showtimes are 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, as well as a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee through Jan. 1. There will be no performance on Christmas Eve night or Christmas Day. Other 2 p.m. matinees are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3; Thursday, Dec. 22; Friday, Dec. 23; Saturday, Dec. 24, and Saturday, Dec 31. An additional evening show is set for Tuesday, Dec. 27.
Mooy and the cast will present a sneak preview, and Mooy will lead a pre-show discussion, on Thursday, Dec. 1, starting at 6:15 p.m. Friday’s opening night includes a post-show reception with the cast.
Ticket prices are $50 for orchestra seating and $35 for the mezzanine sections. Rep subscribers may buy unlimited children’s tickets for $25 (orchestra) or $17.50 (mezzanine); non-subscribers may only buy one child’s ticket per each adult ticket.
For tickets, call 378-0405 or 866-684-3737, or visit www.therep.org.