Walnut Street Theatre (WST) continues its 215th season with one of the most beloved stories of all time, Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. This magical musical is a timeless, enchanting story of love and hope and a delightful holiday season treat for the entire family. Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST begins previews on November 21, opens November 29, and runs through the holiday season ending December 31, 2023. The production is directed by Glenn Casale and choreographed by Kim Arnett.
Originally Based on a French fairytale, and reimagined with the classic 1991 animated feature film, Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the timeless tale of finding love and following your dreams. It tells the story of a prince cursed by a magic spell and the bookish Belle who stumbles on his enchanted castle and, with the help of his spellbound servants, helps him break the curse. Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will enchant audiences with a ‘tale as old as time,’ featuring all the classic songs from the animated film, including “Belle,” “Be Our Guest,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The staged version combines the beloved songs of the animated film with an expanded score and 6 additional songs.
The 1991 film, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, featured songs by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken. Met with great critical and commercial success, Beauty and the Beast went on to become the first animated film nominated for Best Picture Academy Award. Following the success of the film, the first staged production on Broadway went on to receive 9 Tony Award nominations, on its way to playing 5,461 performances before taking its final bow in 2007.
The Walnut’s production will feature a company of 25 performers and a live orchestra. Glenn Casale, who directed the Walnut’s Mainstage productions of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Disney’s The Little Mermaid, returns to direct. Casale directed the 2012 Dutch production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the national tour, and several regional productions in the States. His work also includes the 1999 Broadway revival of Peter Pan, which received a Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as the National Tour of Peter Pan and the A&E television production. He directed The Property Known as Garland and Dragapella! at Studio 54, which was nominated for a Drama Desk and two Lucille Lortel Awards. Chris Burcheri returns as Music Director, having just completed ELVIS – A Musical Revolution at the Walnut, and Kim Arnett serves as choreographer making her WST Debut. Burcheri, currently in his fourth season providing music and vocal direction at the Walnut, took the podium in the 2022-23 season for Rocky the Musical, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville. He has also served as the music director for the WST for Kids series and the Associate Conductor on Annie and Holiday Inn. Arnett choreographed the 1999 Broadway revival of Peter Pan, in addition to performing in Damn Yankees, Cabaret, and Seussical at Broadway Sacramento.
Making his return and Walnut Street Theatre mainstage debut as the cursed and “hideous” Beast Prince is Daniel Wisniewski. Wisniewski, a native of Northeast Philadelphia, did his acting apprenticeship at Walnut Street Theatre in 2018. Wisnieski’s Off-Broadway credits include Romeo and Bernadette and The Imbible: Day Drinking. His regional theatre credits include Men with Money and 1776. Also returning to the Walnut, bringing to life the role of the strong, independent, and book-loving Belle is Julia Udine. Udine was last seen on stage at the Walnut in Shrek the Musical. Udine is best known for her four-year stint as Christne in The Phantom of the Opera both on Broadway and in the 25th Anniversary National Tour. She is a Voorhees, NJ native and attended Pennsylvania State University before leaving to join the tour of Phantom at 19 years old.
Returning as Lumiere and Cogsworth, the Prince’s charming French valet and his excitable English major-domo, are Dana Orange and Fran Prisco, respectively. Orange has been seen on stage at the Walnut in the tropical journey of Escape to Margaritaville, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Fran Prisco is celebrating over 23 years of productions at the Walnut, starting with Singin’ in the Rain in 2000. Other credits include Rocky the Musical, Young Frankenstein, and South Pacific. Returning as the sweet, kind-hearted head of the kitchen staff and mother to Chip, Mrs. Potts, is Mary Martello. Martello is a Walnut favorite with over 30 WST productions including Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Blithe Spirit, Young Frankenstein, Annie, and 9 to 5. Returning as Belle’s slightly addled genius inventor father is Walnut veteran Bill Van Horn. Horn has performed in, written, and directed many shows at WST and most recently premiered his stage adaptation of Sherlock Holmes’ The Adventure of the Speckled Band. Additional recent credits include Escape to Margaritaville, Rocky the Musical, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Returning to play Gaston, the rude and narcissistic hunter vying for Belle’s hand in marriage, is Chris Stevens. Stevens has been seen in the Walnut’s productions of Shrek the Musical and South Pacific. Playing Gaston’s fawning friend and sidekick LeFou is Adam Mandala. Mandala’s Walnut credits include Escape to Margaritaville, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Rocky the Musical, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Rebecca Robbins is a WST veteran and returns as the larger-than-life opera singing Wardrobe, Madame de la Grande Bouche. Robbins has been seen in ELVIS – A Musical Revolution, Rocky, Always Patsy…Cline, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Sharing the role of Chip, Mrs. Potts’s hopeful young son, are Grant Knudson (weeknights) of Collingswood, NJ and Raphael Sommer (weekends) of Merion Station, PA.
Returning to WST as the proprietor of the local insane asylum, Monsieur D'arque, is Adam Hoyak. Audiences will recognize Hoyak from WST’s productions of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and Matilda. Bonnie Kelly returns for her tenth WST production as the flirtatious maid Babette after last being seen in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Rocky the Musical, Disney's The Little Mermaid, and Beehive. Playing the roles of the Silly Girls is Audrey Biehl Simmons (Escape to Margaritaville, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella) who doubles as the production’s Dance Captain, Rachael Britton Hart (Escape to Margaritaville, Disney’s The Little Mermaid) and Alexandra Frohlinger (Escape to Margaritaville, Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella).
Returning to the Walnut to form an ensemble of villagers, castle staff, wolves, and more are Sara Brophy (Elf, The Wizard of Oz), Andrew Eckert (Saturday Night Fever, The Wizard of Oz), Phoebe Gavula (Cinderella), Jessie Jones (Rocky, The Little Mermaid), Kevin Kulp (The Little Mermaid, Matilda), Kimberly Maxson (Escape to Margaritaville, Shrek), Daniel Miller (Rocky), Zummy Mohammed (Cinderella), and Devon Sinclair (Escape to Margaritaville, Cinderella). The Walnut welcomes Samantha Roche, making her WST mainstage debut. This cast of 26 actors virtually all hail from the greater Delaware Valley, showcasing Philly’s finest talent.
Scenic Designer Robert Kovach (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Shrek the Musical) makes his WST return to capture the enchantment of the French provincial town. Kovach will be joined by returning Lighting Designer Matt Demascolo (Escape to Margaritaville, Always...Patsy Cline, Beehive) and Sound Designer Ed Chapman (Elvis – A Musical Revolution, Rocky the Musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid). Costume Designer Mary Folino (Elvis – A Musical Revolution, Rocky the Musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid), Wig Designer Carissa Thorlakson (Escape to Margaritaville, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), and Makeup Designer Kelsey Brooks will ensure everyone, including the dishes, are ready for you to "Be Our Guest!”
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast begins November 21 and runs through December 31, 2023 which includes holiday performances. Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, December 3, 7pm performance. Season sponsor: PNC Arts Alive. This production is sponsored by Independence Blue Cross, Spark Therapeutics, Fitler Club, and Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld LLC. Season Dining Partner is Buca D’oro Ristorante. Media Sponsors are NBC, Metro Philadelphia, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com
Music by ALAN MENKEN · Lyrics by HOWARD ASHMAN & TIM RICE · Book by LINDA WOOLVERTON
WHEN: Starts November 21 – through December 31, 2023
PRESS NIGHT: Wednesday, November 29 at 7:00pm
WHERE: Walnut Street Theatre
825 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Premium Tickets available for $175 (includes a tax-deductible donation)
CURTAIN: Tuesday – Thursday evenings (11/21-12/21, except 11/23, 11/29, 12/12) at 7:30pm
Special Wednesday Opening Night (11/29) at 7pm
Friday – Saturday evenings (11/24-12/16) at 8pm
Sunday evenings (11/26, 12/3*) at 7pm
Wednesday-Thursday matinees (12/6-12/28) at 2pm
Saturday – Sunday matinees (11/25-12/17, 12/31) at 2pm
HOLIDAY PERFORMANCE TIMES
Tuesday-Friday evening 12/22, 12/26-12/29 at 7pm
Special Saturday times 12/23, 12/30 at 11am and 4pm
*Open captioning will be available during the 7pm performance on 12/3.
TICKETS: 215-574-3550 walnutstreettheatre.org or ticketmaster.com