The big movie release of this past weekend, if I can believe the hype I’ve seen and the strong crowds I experienced, was the live action adaptation of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast. The 1991 animated musical production is one of the most beloved in the Disney canon, winning Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, and becoming the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture. The affection and nostalgia still attached to the animated film have made this year’s adaptation perhaps the most hotly anticipated live action Disney film of the past decade.
Join Lebeau and me as we discuss our own histories with the story and our reactions to the new film. There are mild spoilers here, but if you’ve seen the previous Disney film, the general story shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
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Songwriter Robert Lopez is turning 42 today. He began writing songs as a child and wrote two musicals during his studies at Yale. After graduation, he teamed with another songwriter, Jeff Marx, on a musical called Avenue Q. An innovative musical which featured Sesame Street style puppets interacting with human characters, Avenue Q ran for over 2500 performances on Broadway and won three Tonys including Best Musical and Best Musical Score.
In 2003, Lopez was approached by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, of South Park fame, who had seen Avenue Q and had the beginnings of an idea for a musical. It took the threesome seven years of development, but in 2011, the musical The Book of Mormon premiered on Broadway. It went on to win nine Tonys, including two that Lopez personally shared in, Best Book and Best Original Score. The original cast album also won a Grammy.