20th year anniversary of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast musical adaptation goes international, keeps local

“I absolutely love, love, pretty much honestly all of the Disney movies, that’s what I grew up on. Beauty and the Beast is obviously one that hit home, and I feel honored to be able to share the story and recreate the role of Gaston. It’s not my character, it is Disney’s character that I get to portray,” said theatre actor, Cameron Bond.

The Calgary Journal spoke on the phone with cast members Cameron Bond and Bonnie Kelly, who play Gaston and one of the three of Gaston’s ‘Silly Girls’ in the Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

They are currently touring in the United States before making their way up to Canada.

The smash hit Broadway musical also has current productions taking place in Germany, Japan, Paris and North America.

Calgary will be able to see the production with Bond and Kelly at the Southern Jubilee Auditorium from Feb. 17-22, 2015. Both Kelly and Bond said they are excited to come to the city for the first time.

“You leave the theatre every night making such an impression on the audience and younger kids and older people,” said Kelly. “They always say ‘When you go out there, this is going to be someone’s first musical and someone’s last musical.’ And this is one that just touches the inside of everybody. It’s just a really special show.”

A press release was issued from Broadway Entertainment Group in November of last year, where Ron Kollen, the senior vice president of Disney Theatrical Productions International, stated, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with NETWorks and Broadway Entertainment Group, to launch this first ever international tour.”

Musical adaptations of the beloved Disney classic began in 1994, with other TV and film adaptations popping up throughout the years. Meanwhile, it remains as one of the highest grossing, and longest running Broadway shows ever.

Why is it special?

This production is especially important to Bond and Kelly, personally, and they explained that it is relatable to real life and real situations.

“I’m a Disney brat,” Bond laughs. “I was raised and fed Disney. Actually, my parents met working at Disneyland. My mom was Snow White, my dad was Prince Charming and they met while working there. Isn’t that cliché? I owe Disney my life.”Cameron Bond as Gaston and the silly girls of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
photo by Matthew Murphy

Kelly explained that her favourite part of the musical is the song, “Human Again” (which was deleted from the original release of the movie but is now in the re-release) because the song reads true to many different people.

“It’s in the second act and it’s when Belle finally says, ‘lets give a second chance to the Beast, let’s have dinner.’ And all of the objects finally see some hope because they haven’t seen hope at all for years,” explained Kelly. “It’s a song that makes a lot of sense in the musical and makes sense in a lot of real life situations.”

Beyond Kelly being a ‘Silly Girl’, she said she also plays 18 other roles, including a villager and puppeteer — all of which take a lot of physical effort.

“It challenges you physically, and there are days where your legs may not tick and you have to warm up an extra half hour, but that’s why I do what I do,” Kelly explained. “It’s like being an athlete in the Olympics, you’re training your body and it’s vigorous and that’s the most challenging part.”

“I’m a Disney brat,” Bond laughs. “I was raised and fed Disney. Actually, my parents met working at Disneyland. My mom was Snow White, my dad was Prince Charming and they met while working there. Isn’t that cliché? I owe Disney my life.” 

– Camron Bond, plays Gaston in Beauty and the Beast 

And Bond has to live up to the Gaston name, of course.

“I usually arrive to the theatre an hour and ten minutes before the show starts and I’ll stretch, and I usually do triceps and biceps, some pushups and abs to get my blood flowing,” Bond said.

The musical brings the audience into the story

The musical and the film do have differences, with the musical being two-and-a-half hours and the movie a shorter hour-and-a-half. But not to worry all of you die-hard Disney fans – Kelly said the added songs help to augment the plot and provide a more thorough view of the intricate relationship between the main characters.

“It’s so different when you’re watching actual people and getting to see those emotions ring true. Cartoons are one thing, and actual human beings are another,” she said. “The musical is different, but it brings it to life more. You feel like you’re in the story.”

Bond also lives up to his role as Gaston, as he explained his favourite part of the show.

“For me, while performing, I love the song ‘Gaston,’” he admitted. It sounds like Bond has the perfect attitude for the part. But upon further explanation, it is his favourite for other reasons.

“We use real, metal mugs, like beer mugs. It’s a really technical dance where we click the mugs together in different ways, like crossing arms, under the legs, all the clinks that you hear while watching it are us live, there’s no sound effects. It took forever to learn, but I’m really proud of that number and that’s why it’s my favourite.”

Gaston is also a dream role for the actor.

“He’s funny and goofy in Act One; he’s just playing the naïve, egotistical, manipulating Gaston. But in Act Two, he turns into the villain where everyone hates him,” Bond said. “So it’s nice to get the over the top goofiness out of the way in Act One, and then in Act Two just strip down and be really raw and scary and enthused. I love the whole spectrum of it.”

Keeping original and enjoyable

Senior vice president of Disney Theatrical Productions International, Ron Kollen stated that the international tour is a perfect way to celebrate the musical being on Broadway for 20 years, and it includes the shows original creative team.

“Same choreographer, same director, same costumer, same set designer, all reinventing it,” explained Bond. “A lot of the choreography is the same on Broadway, and obviously the script and the way we deliver our lines, the way we’re directed is the same as how they were directed on Broadway. So it’s really that caliber that people can enjoy.”

Both cast members emphasize how the show is not just for children.

“I feel like the most important thing with Beauty and the Beast is that it’s a kid friendly show, but it is a show that is for all ages. Everyone will enjoy it,” Kelly said.Jillian Butterfield as Belle and Ryan Everett wood as Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

photo by Matthew Murphy

Bond said that his friends were even indecisive about first wanting to see the production.

“I’m from the Los Angeles area and I told all my friends to come and they were like ‘Man I don’t wanna see Beauty and the Beast, it’s like a kids show!’ Then afterwards they’re like, ‘that was the funniest. I laughed so much, I was so into it,’” Bond said.

“It’s a lovely story about love and looking past the exterior. And we have the familiar characters that everyone loves, and great humor,” Bond iterates.

“Be Our Guest” at the Southern Jubilee Auditorium for opening night of Disney’s musical Beauty and the Beast, which runs Feb. 17-22.

The Calgary Journal will provide a follow-up review available online the next day.

ahardstaff-gajda@cjoural.ca