Disney proudly invites you to ‘Be Our Guest’ as the most enchanted tale of all time Beauty and the Beast arrives at Liverpool Empire Theatre. 

Disney first debuted Beauty and the Beast on Broadway 26 years ago and members of the original creative team have reunited on this new production that features all of the spellbinding music and lyrics of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

The world premiere of the brand new production of the classic fairy tale is calling Liverpool home until 16 October dazzling audiences with a fresh retelling of the 1991 Disney animated movie loved by every generation. 

Having been spectacularly reimagined using the latest theatrical innovations, it will be like no other production of Beauty and the Beast you will have seen before. From the costumes to the sets, props, brand new songs and incredible dance performances, you’ll be going home with ‘Be Our Guest’ in your head for days to come. 

To find out all about the show and give you a sneak peek of what to expect, we went down to the Liverpool Empire Theatre to meet Matt West, the Director and Choreographer, Thomas Schumacher, Disney Theatrical President and Gaston and Mrs Potts played by Tom Senior and Sam Bailey to talk about all things Beauty and the Beast

What can the audiences in Liverpool expect from the show?

Matt West - “I'm finding in the UK there are a lot of people who know the show and I think it’s going to be a big surprise. They are going to find new music, new designs, and a new way of telling the story. 

We have been very successful with this company at honouring the characters but we have given them a more modern edge. That was my goal for the company. I think it will feel like going home but with a new set of clothes. 

I have also played this theatre before in Liverpool. We opened the original company of Beauty and the Beast here, I want to say 17 years ago. We opened a UK tour here, in this theatre, the Empire Theatre. I didn't remember that until I walked in and remembered the venue. 

I loved Liverpool back then. For me personally, coming back to Liverpool is like going home again. It’s something you remember but it’s totally different. It’s all updated, so I hope that’s what they feel from this show.”

What’s it like coming back to Liverpool with a brand new production?

Matt West - “It’s like coming home. Which is what I hope people who know the show feel too. People who are adults who were children when we first came to the Empire Theatre, they are bringing their children which for me is just wackadoodle. For me, I don't feel any different and I hope they feel like it’s going home with a new twist. 

They will be looking at this with fresh eyes so we wanted to give them a fresh show. The biggest difference with this production of Beauty and the Beast will be the dances. All the dance pieces are totally different. ‘Be Our Guest’ is a 10 minute number now and we pull out all the stops. I came back to Liverpool with fresh eyes and I think the audience is going to come back the same way.”

How have you found being part of such an iconic, well loved musical?

Sam Bailey - “For me, it’s come full circle. I have two girls and I have watched the film 100 times over and I have bought the dresses several times over because they have grown. I feel like I have invested in this show since I was young and more so with the children. To sing that song on stage is very emotional for me. I have to try and not think about my babies in their yellow dresses, otherwise I am a sobbing mess.”

How different is it from the original film? Will there be any surprises?

Sam Bailey - “There is and the more you watch there’s more you see. It's the tiny attention to detail. I feel like you have to come and see it a couple of times to see everything. You’ll see a completely different show each time when you notice things. It’s a show for everyone, for people that want to sit and work everything out to people that want to see the magic.” 

Tom Senior - “For people who love the film it’s got it all in. It’s got the music but then for the people who are buffs about the musical it’s got that in and more.

It’s really real as well. You’ve really got the magic and the laughter from the film but then you've got real stuff going on, like relationships and bullying, it gets quite deep. 

The choreography throughout the whole of the production is insane. Matt West being the original creative, has come along and evolved the choreography and turned it into a spectacle.”

Sam Bailey - “Be Our Guest is a 10 minute number and the dances are insane. The ensemble in the show is incredible. It’s a great show, Disney is great to work for and the creatives are amazing. And the costumes! When I look at the costumes they have a bit of a couture look about them. If you look back from the original show and how they have evolved into what they are now, there is a real classiness to these new production costumes.”

Tom Senior - “They are also using some parts of the set that have never been used before in musicals. There’s new technology that we are the first to use. They have had time to think about it over Covid and stepped it up a notch. 

It’s a real celebration of being back on stage as we’ve been off for so long. We get a standing ovation after ‘Be Our Guest’ and that’s only half way through the show. There is a full blown appreciation of being able to tell the story and we’re appreciative of having people in the audience. It’s a real moment every time we take our final bow.”

What has the audience reaction been like so far?

Tom Senior - It’s been outstanding. Definitely because we’re up North the audience is rowdy which is what we want. It has been a celebration that theatre is back, that live performances are back. There’s just a general energy when the lights go down and everyone is screaming, it’s gone up a notch.”

Thomas Schumacher - “I think everyone views how they are re-engaging in life differently and all I can tell you is that what we’re seeing around the world is that audiences are ready to come back. People will come back when they are ready. The audience at this theatre is full and the audience is going out of its mind. The cheering inside the theatre was so loud we couldn't even hear ourselves.”

How are you enjoying being in Liverpool? 

Thomas Schumacher - “Well first off people have been very lovely. I have a wildly funny hotel room that makes me laugh because it’s so beautiful. The city is very famous to us because of The Beatles, it’s one of the most famous cities in the country to an American. It’s a lot of fun to be around here.”

Matt West - “I went to The Cavern, is that really the place where they started? I grew up with the Beatles. I haven't really experienced Liverpool like I want to, with a new show you’re working a lot. In these days of Covid and trying to put on a show, it takes more time to mount a show. The great thing about Disney as a producer is they allow you to do that. They want us to keep working on the show which is great. And I get to come back to England, one of my favourite spots. I have this connection with England. I love coming back here everytime I come. There's a charm to it that we don’t have in the states.”

Facts about Beauty and the Beast

  • Since it’s premiere in 1994 the show has been seen by over 35 million people world wide. At nearly 30,000 performances and 24 productions around the world.

  • It is the 10th longest running show on Broadway ever with 5462 performances over 13 years.

  • The West End production opened in 1997 playing 1100 performances to 2 million people winning the Olivier Award for Best New Musical.

  • There are 97 custom-made electric candles in the Beast’s castle.

  • During the song 'Gaston', the cast clink their mugs together over 800 times.

  • The show is transported from venue to venue in 23 trailers.

  • Built into the 'Be Our Guest' scenery are:

            - 804 LED colour-changing light bulbs with custom lenses

            - 112 LED light boxes

            - 766 metres of colour-changing LED tape

            - 84 high-intensity strobe lights

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is at the Liverpool Empire Theatre until 16 October and a limited number of tickets are still on sale. Be quick to book yours here so you don’t miss out! 

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