Interview with Beauty and the Beast Director Bill Condon and Musical Film Composer Alan Menken
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST opens in Theaters everywhere on March 17th, 2017!
I’m super excited to share an exclusive Interview with Beauty and the Beast legendary musical Composer Alan Menken and the Director of Beauty and the Beast Bill Condon. Typically I get really nervous sharing interviews like this because I want to make sure I do them justice in sharing their vision, especially with two people who are so well known and incredibly talented each in their own way. There’s nothing like the passion a Director has for his film or the passion the Composer has for his music.
It certainly wouldn’t be fair to talk about a man that you have not yet heard his musical presentations so I’d like to start here. I give you legendary Composer Alan Menken on the Grand Piano with “Gaston” with Josh Gad and Luke Evans singing the lyrics.
Alan Menken and Bill Condon worked side by side when discussing new songs for Beauty and the Beast. Because Alan is a man of the theater Bill knew he was somebody “who craves the dialogue and the collaboration”. Alan knew that with Bill directing it would take a big burden off of him. He was able to be a catalyst which is what he wanted to be more than somebody driving the ship.
Preserving the timeless classic with integrating new things.
When you see Beauty and the Beast you will see that this film has absolutely nothing missing from the animated version. Bill Condon says, “It was always about revealing more. It wasn’t about reinventing.”
In order to bring this film into the real world they started by asking themselves a few simple questions. This gave them the spots where to sprinkle in the extra details.
- How did Belle and Maurice wind up in this village?
- What happened to her mother?
- How did the Prince become such a dissolute figure that he was worthy of being cursed?
These questions and more are answering in the film. The details which are so very important. Important enough that you’d want to remember them.
Bill Condon shares how he knew Emma Watson was his Belle
He loved her in Harry Potter. They met when he was shooting a movie called Mr. Holmes. Even though they only met for an hour he loved how much she loved the original Beauty and the Beast. The best part was that Emma Watson showed up to the interview with a stack of books.
The biggest question they had was could Emma sing? This is what they needed to know before they cast her. Emma put together a tape for him so they could hear her sing. He said this was a scary moment because you never know really what kind of sound comes out until you hear it. He said her voice was… “so much a continuation of who she is and how she speaks and there was clearly this kind of sweetness to it and clarity to it that made it seem like it was gonna be a different Belle but it was gonna be a really satisfying one.”
Balancing a Musical, to a film from the Animation version
The animated version actually was conceived as a movie first knowing they couldn’t just stop a movie for a ballad. “The story’s gotta be told during the course of a movie number.
I think for me in terms of making it different you take the number of Belle. People look at that and say, well, it’s just the way it was in the animated but actually, you know, in the course of that we’re telling some other new stories. We’re showing the fact that this is a village where only boys go to school or girls do their laundry and where the village lasses who are so into Gaston resent Belle because their mother has always doted more on Belle than her.
Alan Menken says, “We take a story and we create structures that can be musicalized and write these songs and we create that structure.”
He says many times when they choose where a musical number goes they take two routes. They either decide with his brain or he decides with his gut. Many times his gut would tell him if something wasn’t right or needed to be changed.
Alan shared with us one of the most important things he’s learned in his career. He says, “I learned in my career was it’s not about me. It’s about the characters and the story and don’t ever fall in love with your own material.Let other people fall in love with it if they want and if you have a note, the best way to address a note is to go okay, and just do it because you’re part of a thing that’s larger than you and the more, that’s what’s great about musical theater also.”
He says that it’s important that you not be a nurse mate to your own material. Just keep pushing stuff out, write another and another. Don’t get stuck on things like wondering why people didn’t like it.
I simply love that because it’s so very true. It’s true in a lot of things and can fit into so many thing in life. You have to keep pushing on even when things aren’t going well because you never know when things are going to pick up. Such a great message for everyone.
Very emotional moment came when Allan Menken shared his thoughts on how his music can impact the public and how it can get people through hard times. This is what he said.
Basically I was a kid who liked to practice the piano and I was a nervous kid with an ulcer and I just was a dreamer and then some how I found that writing songs was really, you know, composing was where my brain would settle and I just did it and did it and did it and now it has an impact on people like that and I’m just living my life and it’s had that effect and wow.
Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a. with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice.
“Beauty and the Beast” now playing in U.S. Theaters everywhere.
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