Something There: The Music of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Acclaimed composer Alan Menken – responsible for the generation-defining musical hits that fused Broadway with Disney animation throughout The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules – revisits a tale as old as time in Disney’s upcoming Beauty and the Beast, the studio’s live-action re-imagining of their beloved 1991 animated classic. Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman’s soundtrack would go on to win several Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Grammys, with a Broadway stage adaptation – starring the film’s critically acclaimed soundtrack, with new songs contributed by Menken and lyricist Tim Rice – running from 1994 to 2007. Most of the songs from the Broadway musical will make their way into the theatrical fairy tale, described as a “straight-forward, live action, large-budget movie musical” by director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls).
The newest iteration of Beauty and the Beast will once again be scored by Menken, featuring songs from the original film as well as never-before-heard material from Menken and Rice. The live-action musical will also see the debut of previously unused lyrics penned by Ashman, who died before release of the animated film in 1991. “In ‘Gaston,’ we had a treasure trove of lyrics that Howard had written that we did not put in the movie,” Menken shared with EW of the famous villain song, performed here by Luke Evans. “In many cases they were a little bit risqué — not risqué sexually, but risqué in terms of sensibility. We all felt ready to have these lyrics. When Bill found out about those lyrics, he said, ‘Oh my god, can we please look at that, because it would be a wonderful way to add an extra freshness to the movie.’ So, yes, you’re going to hear some unheard Howard Ashman lyrics.”
“The guys at Disney reviewed all the transcripts and recordings and they’ve been able to go back through those hours and hours of recorded footage and listen to lyrics that were written and never used, which are actually gems,” revealed Evans. “So, for the [audience members] who know the songs immensely well, which I think is most people, you will hear a few new lines, which are really, really special.” Condon teased “a surprise at the end,” another unused Ashman lyric unearthed from the Disney vault. “I don’t want to give that away, but it’s a really gorgeous lyric that we found.”
In further talks with EW, Menken disclosed three new ballads exclusive to the film, to be performed by Belle (Emma Watson), inventor father Maurice (Kevin Kline) and Belle’s lover-to-be, the transformed Beast (Dan Stevens). “The first time [‘Our Song Lives On’ is] sung, it’s Belle’s father singing as he’s completing a music box, and basically it’s [about], ‘How does a moment live forever? How do you hang on to precious moments?’ Then, it’s reprised by Belle, and then it’s the song that’s actually over the end credits at the end of the movie,” Menken said. “Disney hasn’t announced it yet, but there’s going to be some wonderful singer on the end credits song.”
“‘For Evermore’ is this moment where the Beast now loves Belle, and he realizes that she misses her father, and he acknowledges she’s no longer a prisoner, and when she sees her father’s in trouble, he says, ‘Go to him, go.’ And he voluntarily lets her go,” he noted. “He’s basically singing about how he now knows what love is, as he watches her leave, and he’s climbing up the turret of the castle as she recedes into the distance, just watching her go further and further away.” It sounds as if ‘For Evermore’ replaces ‘If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise),’ the Broadway musical’s heart-acher performed by Beast after he allows Belle to return to her father.
“‘Days in the Sun’ is a moment when all of the objects in the castle —and Belle — are going to sleep. Basically, everybody in the castle is having memories of what it used to be when they had their days in the sun,” Menken said of the Beast’s servants, who have also found themselves helplessly transformed by an enchantress’ magical spell. “It’s sort of a combination of a lullaby and a remembrance of happier days for everybody.” The film’s prologue will also showcase Broadway legend Audra McDonald, whose Madame De Garderobe features “a moment within the prologue, just before the spell befalls the castle,” as revealed by Menken. “We’re actually at an event at the Prince’s castle, where the Prince is about to be turned into the Beast, and he’s in his very selfish and self-indulgent phase of his life, and we see that, and we have the magnificent Audra McDonald singing this number.”
“We keep all the songs from the original film, but in this translation, we expanded upon how Belle and the Beast become who they are when we meet them. Two of the new songs connect to that new material,” Condon says of the film’s newest musical inclusions. “’Days in the Sun,’ in particular, is sung by Belle and has more to do with the household staff and how they see the future when the curse is lifted. But it’s also as a song the Beast’s mother sang to him when he was a boy. So it sort of comes full circle. Finally, there’s the song [‘For Evermore’] the Beast sings as at a crucial dramatic point at the end of the movie. They always say you should only ever sing when speaking isn’t enough. When you can’t help but sing. And that’s what the song is, a cry of pain. I think that’s a really big, 11-o’clock cinematic number.”
Emma Watson, starring as Belle, an inventor who longs for adventure in the great wide somewhere beyond her simple village, will surprise audiences with her musical performance, Condon told Fandango. “She sort of had to [sing] and wanted to prove she could do it. She had always loved singing, but in those years of doing Harry Potter she hadn’t done it. She got her voice back in shape, took lessons and then there it was! This beautiful, sweet, pure sound that she has,” revealed the filmmaker. “It is interesting.We don’t usually think about movie stars being able to sing, and then they do it. Some people’s voices just reveal something about themselves and seem like the essence of them. Emma is one of those people, there’s a natural connection from the way that she speaks and the way she sings.”
The film’s musical score was heard just briefly in the first trailer, though a recently released clip gives anxiously awaiting fans a taste of Watson’s singing voice with ‘Something There,’ the shared love song between beauty and beast:
Starring Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast, Luke Evans as Gaston, Josh Gad as LeFou, Emma Thomspon as Mrs. Potts, Kevin Kline as Maurice, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Stanley Tucci as Cadenza and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opens March 17th.