Based on the smash hit 1991 Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast is one of the most successful screen-to-stage adaptations of all time, grossing nearly $1.5 billion in 13 different countries since its 1994 Broadway premiere.
The source material for Beauty and the Beast is a classic French fairy tale, La Belle et la Bête, first published in 1740. Many of the details of this story were changed for the Disney film and subsequent musical (for instance, the character upon whom Belle is based originally had two older sisters and three brothers) and many others were added (including the enchanted objects, the character of Gaston, and the magical rose) but the general storyline is very similar.
Production of the stage musical began soon after the movie was released. Several changes were made to lengthen the show from the 90-minute runtime of the animated film and to make it more feasible to mount on a physical, live-action stage. Alan Menken and Tim Rice, who (with Howard Ashman) had collaborated to create the music and lyrics for the film, were brought onto the project to write several additional songs, including “If I Can’t Love Her,” “Home,” “No Matter What,” and “Maison des Lunes.” The show had a trial run in Houston, Texas in 1993 before moving to Broadway’s Palace Theater in 1994. The Broadway production starred Susan Egan as Belle and Terrence Mann as the Beast and garnered nine Tony nominations. Another production opened on London’s West End in 1997, and there have been three U.S. tours since 1995. Many other major professional productions have been mounted in various cities across the U.S. and abroad, including in Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Madrid, and Melbourne.
The amateur rights for Beauty and the Beast are licensed through Josef Weinberger Ltd. in the U.K. and Music Theatre International (MTI) in the U.S. Thousands of productions have been performed by various community, high school, college, and regional theater companies.