When Disney World Cruise Line said it was bringing a stage version of “Beauty and the Beast” to Disney Dream this fall, it promised a unique way of telling it, as if the scenes were part of a music box.
The look of how that actually will take place is coming into view now. Director and choreographer Connor Gallagher said the production will make use of Belle’s father Maurice as an artist and music box maker who narrates the fairy tale, and each turn of the music box will shift scenes on the stage as if it were within the walls of the music box.
“In this concept of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ what if we created this environment that was totally malleable? It opens up the possibility for us to do absolutely anything,” Gallagher said.
“As he’s telling the story of Belle and the Beast, it comes to life before you and he opens this music box and the entire show plays out,” Wordsworth said. “You start to see spinning doorways, characters that move in circles, things that remind you of winding up a music box.”
And once again, Disney will rely on projection technology to enhance the storytelling and set design, which can be a challenge on the confined space of a cruise ship.
“From the get-go we knew that we wanted to pair kind of physical actual elements, things that people were touching and moving around with a projected element so that it feels as though our characters are really traveling to different places,” said scenic designer Jason Sherwood.
Production designer Aaron Rhyne said LED walls will enhance the visuals.
“We’re really taking a giant leap forward with video technology,” he said. “It all becomes this cohesive blend between the choreography, the movement, the staging, the actors, the set and the video so it all appears like one move together.”
The new production is the third new ship-board show since 2013 for the cruise line following “Tangled: The Musical” on board Disney Magic and “Frozen, a Musical Spectacular” on board Disney Wonder. Leaving the lineup on Dream will be “Villains Tonight!” while “Disney’s Believe” and “The Golden Mickeys” will remain on board.
The musical will feature songs from both the original movie and new ones from this spring’s live-action film. Some classic songs like “Be Our Guest” and “Gaston” from composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman will be big Broadway-style numbers, and others from the original film will be transformed into instrumental numbers as part of the music box theme. And like both “Tangled” and “Frozen,” puppetry will once again be used to help translate characters like Lumière, Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts.