“Beauty and the Beast” on Stage! “Belle’s” Tell-All!
Turns out, if you weren’t locked up in a box as a child, the words “Be Our Guest” tend to conjure up notions of dishware entertaining a lovely brunette in a castle.
This week in San Diego (October 26-31 at the Civic Theater), and in other spots all across the country, the original creators of this Broadway production present that number, as well as all of your other favorites, as the cast portrays their respective Disney characters in the beloved “Beauty and the Beast.”
The head honcho, Liz Shivener, who plays Belle, took some time to answer some of our questions about touring, her character, as well as what goes on backstage.
Cliq Magazine: OK, so why should college students see “Beauty and the Beast” on the stage?
Liz Shivener: “Beauty and the Beast” is truly for everyone. It's not only for families and can be a great date night. Also, it came out around the time current college students were toddlers. Go for the nostalgia, for the memories! It will be funny to hear some of the jokes that flew over your head when you were little.
CM: On that note, what is it like portraying a character that many grew up with?
LS: Playing Belle is a ton of fun, but it's also a challenge. I loved her so much as a child and becoming her every night is exciting each time. However, playing a character that is already iconic is quite a responsibility. Most people already have feelings or memories associated with Belle, so I feel that it's my job to both respect that, and bring new life to her. It is a delicate balance.
CM: If you weren't playing your particular Disney character, can you think of another one that you'd like to be?
LS: Mary Poppins! Because she's practically perfect in every way!
CM: What is your favorite part that you’ve played during your stage career thus far?
LS: This is actually the start of my career, so it's definitely my favorite. It all still seems comical, unreal to me, that I was lucky enough to be cast in this role. To walk out of the stage door and see the smiling faces of the children who say that the show fills [them] with joy each time…I know what Belle meant to me as a child, and to be able to give that to little girls now is a privilege.
CM: What is the most challenging thing about doing a tour?
LS: It is a very strange thing, being on tour. You really have to put the rest of your life on hold. For me it was particularly difficult because I had dreamt for four years of college about the apartment I would have one day, and my fantastic New York life that I was going to lead. So I moved to the city and got my apartment and started my life…and then had to leave it. I wouldn't give this up for anything in the world, but it is difficult to lay your head down in a new place every Monday.
CM: Any funny backstage mishaps?
LS: Tons! Not many that I can talk about. What I can say is that it is a true sign of the talent of this cast to keep smiling during every performance of "Be Our Guest." That number is often times pandemonium backstage, even after 200 plus performances. There can be set issues, special effect problems, unfastened forks, and wobbling plates, but rest assured, this ensemble will be grinning ear to ear through it all.
CM: For theater majors and those that want to get more serious about performing professionally, what are some practical steps one can take to perhaps one day tour with a company or become involved in a large scale production like the one you are involved in?
LS: Take class, work hard, and audition. Truly, that is all you can do. Be seen! Sign up for workshops, read for auditions, and do anything to put your face out there. Even if you are turned down for something, that's still one more person that has seen you act. And this is a very small world. I got this audition because three months prior, the casting director had seen me in my school's actor showcase. You never know when luck will strike!
It may be a “Tale as Old as Time,” but with this production, there truly is a new energy brought to an old favorite. Go to www.broadwaysd.com for tickets to the San Diego show and to www.beautyandthebeastontour.com for info about shows in your area!