Show Notes

#20: Mr. Disney Musical I – Be Our Guest

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20 episodes already?! My, how time flies!

Today we dive into the whole new world of composer Alan Menken, Disney songwriter extraordinaire, an EGOT winner, and the heart and soul of the Disney Renaissance. Join host Sally Fuller with a triumphant return from Ashley Elliott as they take a walk through Alan Menken’s early career with an emphasis on Disney’s Broadway debut, Beauty and the Beast.

Shout-outs

  • Beauty and the Beast rocks our socks off. But honestly, I’d stick to the movie cast recording and just throw in “If I Can’t Love Her,” “Me,” and “Maison Des Lunes” from the Broadway cast.
  • You know what else rocks our socks off? Horizon Theatre. Give them some love by checking out their streaming work at HorizonTheatre.com
  • Our favs: Disney, Howard Ashman, Little Shop of Horrors, Sesame Street, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Frank Rich, Linda Woolverton, Terrence Mann, Susan Egan, Hercules, Kerry Butler, Andrea McArdle, Christy Carlson Romano, Andrew Keenan Bolger, Nick Jonas, Donny Osmond, Tim Rice, Aladdin, Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Michael Eisner, Robert Jess Roth, Stephen Sondheim, A Grand Night for Singing, Passion
  • Special thanks to Peachy Corners Cafe, Crazy Love Coffeehouse, Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee, Ground & Pound Coffee, and Noble & Main for being the best editing offices.
  • BGP would not be possible without behind-the-scenes team members Thomas Fuller and Elise Friderich.

Bonus Videos

For the budding theatre fans

Check out the original Broadway cast of Beauty and the Beast at the 1994 Tony Awards in this very clearly pre-recorded performance. Notice the voice of Anthony Hopkins narrating, because… well, he was there, so why not?

For the fangirls

Toni Braxton sings “A Change in Me,” the added song that stuck out like a sore thumb when they added it just for her (see story below). I find it painfully slow and lame, but typically modern theatres will do the song with more gusto.

For the die-hards

This little featurette on the making of the musical is so worth watching to get a picture of what went into Beauty and the Beast when it premiered.

Addendums

I thought it was important to note that while Tom Bosley is known to most pop culture enthusiasts as Mr. Cunningham in Happy Days, Broadway fans knew him as the title character in Fiorello in 1960, for which he won a Tony Award.

For further reading on how Disney helped usher in a new age of Broadway by bringing a family-friendly audience, and cleaning up Times Square, check out Janelle Whitaker’s awesome thesis on this very topic for the University of Akron: A WHOLE NEW WORLD: A STUDY ON THE IMPACT THE DISNEY THEATRICAL GROUP HAS MADE ON BROADWAY THEATRE AND TIMES SQUARE OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS.

We hinted at “A Change in Me” being a later-added song, but to elaborate on that point: When Disney was wooing R&B singer Toni Morrison to take over the role of Belle, she agreed to do it on the condition that Menken and Rice would write a new showstopper song for her to sing in the show and record on her own. Ergo, “A Change in Me.” She took over the role in September 1998. Susan Egan, the original Belle, did also get to record the song for a solo album later on.

It’s also worth noting that Lumiere was originally played by a pre-The Producers Gary Beach. You can just see his “Heil Myself” waiting to emerge from those bent legs in “Be Our Guest.”

How to Broadway Corner

How long do shows typically run on Broadway? Hint: It all depends on the producers, who depend on the ticket sales and the Tony Awards.

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