Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a magical and enchanting experience that truly draws the audience into the world of this beloved story. This musical is currently onstage at Paper Mill Playhouse and I am very much looking forward to seeing what they will do with this beloved musical. The musical version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is full of magic and enchantment as the treasured story of Belle and the Beast unfold on stage.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Belinda Allyn who portrays Belle in this production. She spoke about the show, what it is like to play such an iconic character and her excitement regarding getting to play Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Kelli Curtin: What can audiences expect when coming to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Paper Mill Playhouse?
Belinda Allyn: This particular production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the story that everyone knows and loves. In addition, audiences should expect something new and magical in a beautiful new way. I am really excited for audiences to see the production.
Kelli: Could you tell me what the experience is like to play a role that portrays characters that are so familiar to people?
Belinda: Sometimes it can be difficult to play a role such as Belle that so many people are familiar with and adore. That being said, Belle is my first favorite Disney princess and I am pulling from that and remembering what it was about her that made me really fall in love with the character. I am approaching Belle by making her as personal as possible. I am trying to make her fresh and relatable. I am finding my inner Belle because I do not want to recreate the Disney movie version or the Emma Watson version. Playing Belle can be challenging, but it is also super exciting that I get to play her because I loved her as a child.
Kelli: Your enthusiasm to play Belle is evident. Are you excited to play this role?
Belinda: I am so excited to play Belle. I identify with her in that she loves to read. When I was young there were always summer reading competitions and I would enter and try to read one hundred books over the summer. I really identify with Belle from the love of reading aspect. I also love that Belle is so strong and that she does not need a prince.
Kelli: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a musical that many people love. Why do you think this musical resonates so strongly with audiences?
Belinda: I think that everyone at some point has been that odd person. In the opening number of the show Belle sings about how she is different. The Beast also has the same type of thing in which he feels different and unlike everyone else. People can empathize with this because it is a painful thing to feel like they don’t quite fit in. In the musical the characters overcome this by the end and audiences really embrace this. Also, the character of Belle exemplifies the message that she is different, but that is what makes her wonderful and she is okay with that. I think that is one of the important messages to take away from this show is being different is good.
Kelli: What are you looking forward to in the show?
Belinda: Today we staged the “yellow gown” scene and it is the moment where audiences will see Belle and the Beast fall in love. Our choreographer, Alex Sanchez, is doing something unique with this scene and I do not want to give too much of it away. He created a dance in terms of a journey between Belle and the Beast. In this scene Belle is teaching the Beast to dance and by the end he gains confidence with her and their dance. It is a scene where everyone gets lost in the moment. I am really looking forward to sharing this scene with audiences.
Kelli: Since this show will have a huge impact on the audience, especially the younger audience members, could you tell me what the first show you saw onstage was that had an impact on you?
Belinda: I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. I saw my first professional show at thirteen and it was the national tour of Les Misérables. At that time I was a huge band nerd and really into the music side of musicals. Even though I was a musician I was completely captivated by Eponine and just fell in love with the character and the musical.
Kelli: Why, in your opinion, is live theatre important?
Belinda: Live theatre is a beautiful view into humanity. Things are heightened more in theatre than they are in real life. Theatre allows audience members to experience and learn a lesson that you cannot learn sitting in front of a screen. When you are sitting in the audience of a live theatre production you see actors sweat, hear breaks in their voice and that brings an element of reality and humanity that you cannot experience in any other art form.
Live theatre is an experience for audiences and it helps create empathy for others. In addition, live theatre is a special occasion. People dress up to attend the theatre and they go to dinner before or after the show creating an experience. People do not usually have the same experience when going to the movies or watching television. Live theatre is something you cannot recreate in any other art form.
Belinda Allyn can be seen in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Paper Mill Playhouse through July 3, 2019. For more information and tickets visit their website at papermill.org or call the box office at (973)376-4343.
Photos courtesy of Paper Mill Playhouse
Kelli Curtin is founding editor and writer for Theatre Sensation. She has maintained a love of the performing arts since a very early age and she is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram.