I saw my first Broadway tour in the Fox Theatre in Atlanta when I was 6. It was one of my first memorable experiences with theatre and would later influence my desire to become an actor. Twenty-two years later I got to perform on that same stage in the national touring production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It was a very poignant moment for me, almost a homecoming.
Beauty and the Beast was such a huge part of my childhood, and I had a great experience living my dream on the national tour. I was incredibly excited to join such an iconic show in 2015.
During the rehearsal process, we had the original Broadway team set the show. One of the greatest parts of working with the original team was learning about the origin of one of the longest running shows in Broadway history!
For example, our director, Rob Roth, was working on a concept for a stage version of Mary Poppins at the time when the original Beauty animated film was released in 1991. After the success of Beauty’s opening weekend, the CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, asked Rob if he thought a stage version would work. Several of the major Disney execs had a meeting in Colorado a few months after the movie release, and Rob presented his concept for a stage version of Beauty with one surprise element, the Chip-cart.
The major thing needed to pull off a stage version of a Disney movie was some magic. This piece of magic helped bring the role of the young teacup, Chip, to life. The Chip-cart was designed to hold a boy actor so that his head appeared as the teacup on top of the cart but the rest of the cart appeared empty below. Five minutes into the presentation Eisner was sold, and he gave the green light for the team to develop Disney’s first Broadway show.
Life on the road is tough at times; sleeping in a different hotel every week – sometimes several different ones in one week – gets exhausting. I’ve learned how to live out of a suitcase, sleep on a bus floor, adapt from a desert climate to a cold mountain one in a day, how to catch naps in airports and eat meals with only a microwave … and I loved every minute of it! I was able to see so many places, and I became a family with my cast mates.
On tour, I understudied 3 roles, in addition to my own ensemble track. With my current production at Fireside Theatre in Wisconsin, I have now learned 6 of the 7 male principle tracks in the show, having to be ready to go on at a moment’s notice, which has happened on a few occasions!
This show and story holds a very special place in my heart, and I’m excited that the movie will bring it to a new generation!
Kyle Huey, a 2010 Ouachita graduate, majored in musical theatre. He has performed in the national tour of Beauty and the Beast and currently is in the BATB cast at Fireside Theatre in Wisconsin through April 2017. He previously worked as a Disney cast member with Disney Cruise Line and Tokyo Disney.
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