Its a tale as old as time or, at least, as old as 1991.
Thats when Disneys animated film Beauty and the Beast opened to almost instant acclaim, earning Oscar nominations and spawning a hit stage adaptation.
This weekend, the Beauty and the Beast national tour comes to the RiverCenter. One of the shows stars, Tim Rogan (who plays Gaston, the village villain), recently spoke with the Ledger-Enquirer. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Is this the first Disney musical youve done?
Yeah. I think this might be the Disney show that Ive ever done and its definitely the first national tour that Ive ever done, so thats kind of a big exciting thing. The movie is one of my favorite films ever. So for this to sort of be the first tour that I ever get to be a part of, Im pretty happy and grateful for that.
Plus youre playing a Disney villain!
The parts not bad either. [Laughs] Gaston is a total, total blast to play. He is pretty iconic and some of the people that have played Gaston in the past now are pretty legendary, too.
Preparing for the role: did you look back at the animated film?
I really have to say, the original version, the Richard White version from the film, I grew up watching the film so much throughout my life, its kind of one of those things where the little isms, the little mannerisms, were just so burned and ingrained into my mind because they did such an amazing job the first go-round that it was like, Well how do you improve upon what is so, so well established? And then I guess sort of the thing that I wanted to bring to it is that our directors talk about how they have this vision of how the Beast becomes human and Gaston starts off as the charming human (but becomes) the scary monster by the end of the show.
Youre going from goofy in the beginning to menacing in like two hours flat, which is quite a change.
And we talked about with our director how in the mob scene theres really just this sort of switch that goes off in Gastons mind about once he realizes this whole thing isnt going to work it drives him crazy. The thing that I sort of equate him to is he is a hunter, right? He is an expert at one thing that he does and I kind of joke, I almost think of him as a shark or something, where he kind of goes about his day not really caring about anything else that is around him and its not so much that he is being purposefully rude to the people in the town or to Belle, its that he really doesnt even think to consider what theyre feeling. He just kind of does his own thing. But then when he does that one thing that he is very good at, and that is hunting and that is killing, and thats what he does, thats one of those things where youre sort of like a shark in the ocean theres nothing better than that. But when it comes to that second-act thing, that mob song and you see what hes really capable of, thats where the terror comes in. Because thats that one thing that he does and he does it better than anyone else.
What is the difference between Beauty and the Beast as a film and a stage musical?
One of the great things about it, they very very much stick to what the essence of the film is. So much of the dialogue and the songs from the film you will find in the musical. The wonderful thing is the musical, being a traditional stage show, is about an hour longer than a 90-minute Disney film, so with that came the luxury of being able to add some more supplemental material. One of the songs that people often cite is Human Again, where its the song that all the animated objects are singing about them hoping and dreaming, the reality of the becoming human is coming that much closer. Its this very optimistic, wonderful song. But just due for time, it had to be cut from the film and so its an original song from what should have been the film but then it got thrown back into the stage version. Now, retroactively theyve actually put it back in the film because its been so successful from the musical.
Since its a nine-month national tour, how has the show changed over time?
Its an interesting thing, because this show is the child of the Broadway show, its the same original creative team. Now, whenever any show goes on the road, you then need to start figuring out some simple logistic things of, Oh, we dont have this castle because thats what were able to do when its in one building for forever so in that essence it does have the opportunity evolve a little bit over time. Its kind of awesome, too, because you find those little moments for the actors This is the moment that Im able to put my original spin on it.
IF YOU GO
Where: RiverCenter, 900 Broadway
When: March 15 at 7:30 p.m. and March 16 at 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $49.50-$59.50. Go to http://www.tickets.com