“Beauty and the Beast” on stage gives movie fans magic and music

Photo+by+Matthew+Murphy

Cast of Beauty and the Beast

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Photo by Matthew Murphy
Enchanted Objects of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Photo by Matthew Murphy
Cast of Beauty and the Beast

With a tale as old as time and featuring an eye-popping spectacle, the magical world of Disney invites Salt Lake City to be their guest at the Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast,” which makes its way to Kingsbury Hall for a very limited engagement, Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. Guests are invited to relax, pull up a chair and put the charm of this popular musical to the test, while a host of dancing cutlery and furniture skillfully do the rest.

“There is a lot of Disney magic on the stage. The choreography is unbelievable; there is a whole bunch of folks on stage kicking it like crazy. I will stand in the wings and watch several of the numbers every night because they are just that much fun,” said Samuel Shurtleff, who plays Cogsworth. “There are so many parts of the musical where the audience just comes unglued. It’s a great feeling to be part of a show that the audience loves so much.”

After the runaway success of the movie, it should come as no surprise that the musical version of “Beauty and the Beast” was met with so much critical and popular acclaim. Yet few could have imagined this musical would become Broadway’s ninth longest-running production in history, with an incredible run between 1994 and 2007 that included 5,461 performances.

“Beauty and the Beast” has also spread its magic around the world with productions in countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Spain, which has led to a worldwide gross of nearly $1.4 billion representing a legion of presumably satisfied guests. Part of the success is due to the fact that the musical stays true to the movie version with just a few additions, including adding several new songs to the mix.

“There are a couple of songs in the play that are not in the movie, and they are beautiful additions that are very well received by the audience,” Shurtleff said. “One song is by Gaston and is just hilarious and has everyone falling in love with Gaston during the show. Another new song in the second act that Belle sings was actually written during the Broadway run, and when you see the musical, it’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t part of the movie. It’s just perfect.”

For Shurtleff, performing as Cogsworth is a dream come true. He said there were scary moments in the pursuit of his acting career, a journey which led from the heart of Texas to the bright lights of New York City, but he never stopped believing in himself. The fact that he landed a role in a musical based off a movie that he remembers watching with his family is just icing on the cake.

“I remember … watching [the movie] with my two daughters, and we just loved the show,” Shurtleff said. “When I got the part, I called my kids and they were very excited and thought the role was just perfect for me.”

Shurtleff said playing Cogsworth has shades of his personality and admits he often imagined that Cogsworth would be a role that he could pull off.

“Being an actor my whole life in one way or another I always have imagined myself in certain roles. If I connect with a movie, even an animated movie, I’m thinking to myself, ‘OK, if this role was on stage, this is what I would do,’ ” Shurtleff said. “When my kids were little and we were watching it together, I definitely said to myself, ‘Oh yeah, that Cogsworth, he is definitely my guy.’ ”

Shurtleff has performed in front of his family in Texas and said knowing his daughters were watching him on stage gave him an added layer of butterflies. But Shurtleff also made it clear that “Beauty and the Beast” is a musical that can be enjoyed by everyone.

“There is absolutely something for everybody in this show. Much of the humor is over the heads of kids and is really targeted towards the adults. The music, dancing, and the spectacle of the show is at times mind-blowing,” Shurtleff said. “This show has a wonderful message about looking past the exterior and searching for the heart to see the truth about a person.”

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