Over 100 Indian performers, a luminous stage and swivel chairs for the audience to enjoy the 270 degrees show, Broadway Musical’s Beauty And The Beast is all set to take India by storm.Sangeeta Yadav speaks with the directors who tell her that it is a show that has never been seen or experienced before
The magical world of the Broadway’s Beauty And The Beast (BATB) will be recreated and unveiled for the first time in India. The best part is that the show will not only have over 100 Indian performers but several renowned names from the entertainment industry who’ll be working behind the scene to make the show a grand affair.
“Musical theatre is a very different and an intense genre. It’s the music that drives the storytelling. The content is very universal. During our research in India, we realised that there is a place for such musicals that will connect with the audience. Broadway’s BATB is going to be as successful in India as it has been around the world,” Felipe Gamba, director International Production Strategy, Disney Theatrical Group, tells you.
First launched in 1994 in New York, it took 21 years for Broadway Musical art form to arrive in India. The project by Disney Indian, which started off three years ago, has gone through an intensive research work.
“The Broadway tradition started in New York. It’s a unique art form which then travelled to various countries where it was a great success. Japan now is a very strong market and we are running four shows there. It’s a craft which is so specific and difficult to get it right. Launching something like a Broadway takes time. We go slow because we want to get everything correct. Building this show and running it across the world is very complicated. You need to give it a time to grow. We also take our research very seriously and give attention to detailing. From meeting theatre experts to actors and music directors from Bollywood, we did it all to get a sense of what will work in India,” Gamba says.
Though the format is international, the production team and actors are all India. Vikranth Pawar is the director of the show and creative head of Live Entertainment at Disney India. Lesle Lewis is the music director, Terence Lewis has been roped in as a choreography, Varsha Jain as a set design, Gavin Miguel as the costume design, Pallavi Devika as the hair and make-up and Suzanne D’Mello as the vocal trainer.
Gamba along with Pawar visited several places to understand different theatrical art forms and created the perfect team.
“We started off by laying the ground work for Live Entertainment in India and an intensive research team. Work on BATB itself took almost two years which included scouting appropriate venues, bringing the right talent on board, etc. Rehearsals are going on in full swing and the cast and crew are putting in their 100 per cent to be able to put up the perfect show in Mumbai and Delhi,” Pawar tells you.
The show’s massive scale is likely to leave the viewers spellbound.
“When you think of our shows on Broadway, whether at London’s West End or anywhere else in the world, they look tiny in comparison to what you’ll see in India,” Gamba tells you.
When Pawar came on board for this grand project and witnessed a musical at New York’s Broadway about three years back, he realised that a big task that lay in front of him.
“I was lucky to get an opportunity to watch the Lion King and Newsies and a few more Broadways. The experience was magical, something I had never experienced before. The perfection of all elements and how they come together beautifully is truly an experience one should see at least once in their lifetime,” Pawar says.
With only a month left for the first show which will take place in Mumbai’s National Sports Club from October 23 till November 1, the state-of-the-art infrastructure is getting its final touches.
“On an average, a musical show on Broadway or even West End London has not more than 30-40 artists on stage. Here we’ve more than 100 performers. The stage is in a semi-circle. Even the seating is going to be different, with swivel chairs for the audience to enjoy the 270 degree view. To bring alive the story, we’ll be using advanced technology through a luminous stage,” Pawar reveals.
The titanium seats, which will have 270 degree swivel seats, is priced Rs 5,000, the platinum seats which will give a close up is priced at Rs 4,000. The gold seats with centre view will cost Rs 3,000, silver seats in the balcony will cost Rs 2,000 and bronze seats with upper balcony is priced at Rs 1,000.
In December, the BATB will be showcased in Delhi’s Thyagraj Sports Complex.
“We wanted the experience of the musical to be unique. From a venue perspective, we were looking at a place that would complement our vision of providing the audience with a musical show never seen before. After much research, we decided on Thyagraj Sports Complex. Our vision was to bring the sets alive. We’ll be setting up a 270 degree stage where select audience will get to experience the show around them seated in the middle of a village set-up in swivel chairs,” Pawar says.
Having worked as an assistant director in Zangoora at Kingdom Of Dreams (KoD), Pawar says that there is no comparison between Broadway and Zangoora.
“I won’t compare BATB with any of the KoD shows, as the scale, the grandeur at which we are planning this show, is definitely going to be a first-time-ever experience for the Indians. Indians today travel the world over and some of them have even seen shows of this kind. But there are many who have not had the opportunity to watch it. We hope that we will be able to recreate the magic here in India for such people. BATB is a simple and beautiful love story and these themes resonate well in all cultures and all ages — from six to 60,” Pawar says.
(The article was published in The Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/beautiful-in-a-broadway.html)