As Disney's Beauty and the Beast
ends its fairy-tale run on Broadway, we catch up with cast members past and present.
* Beauty and the Beast
, the Alan Menken– Howard Ashman/Tim Rice– Linda Woolverton tunefest, will give its 5,464th — and last — Broadway performance on July 29, sailing off into the history books as not only the sixth longest-running Broadway show of all time but also the longest-running production at the Palace and
the Lunt-Fontanne Theatres.
To mark the milestone, Disney threw a birthday bash to end 'em all (literally, alas), inviting back to its stage castle for a photo shoot all 250-plus who've trod Beauty
's Broadway boards in those 13 years. Some 135 showed, and after, they adjourned to Sardi's Eugenia Room for good fellowship and a festive repast.
The room was lit flickeringly with Lumieres. There were tinklings of Belles here and there and a host of household utensils yearning to be "Human Again" (clocks, teapots, chipped teacups, salt shakers, spatulas). But there was only one Beast in the room, the once and current Beast, Steve Blanchard
, and he received a caricature as The Beast. (The only other actor that Sardi's has caricatured in character is Michael Crawford as The Phantom of the Opera.
You'd think, at run's end, Broadway's longest-running Beast (eight years, plus three more on tour) would reveal how he makes that startling, magical switch at the end from Beast to Prince. Well, think again. "Belle's love makes me do it," Blanchard replies with a steely smile. Which is what Terrence Mann, the original Beast, said. "See?" Blanchard grins. "We're all programmed alike." It was a kick for him to be onstage with co-stars past and present: "'This Is Your Life,' à la Beauty and the Beast
. It's been the most wonderful theatre experience."