Broadway in India a Grand Experiment: Disney Official

Disney has made a foray into the Indian market with its maiden Broadway show \"Beauty and the Beast\".

Published: 24th October 2015 03:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th October 2015 03:07 PM   |  A+A-

Walt Disney

A Water tower building of the Walt Disney Studios park at Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallee. |AFP

NEW DELHI: Even as Disney has made a foray into the Indian market with its maiden Broadway show "Beauty and the Beast" here, Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Group, says "it is a grand experiment", and he doesn't yet know whether the audiences here will embrace the concept.

"It is a grand experiment, but we will find out if this unique style of performing, which is quite American and is embraced around the world, can be embraced here as well," Schumacher, who is in the country for the staging of "Beauty and the Beast", told IANS in a telephonic interview from Mumbai. 

However, Schumacher affirms that it is a risk "absolutely worth taking."

"I am just going to experiment and sit with everyone (in the crew) and ask, 'how did it work?' And then we will evaluate. 

"I grew up making theatre, this is what I have done my whole life, so the chance to try to find a way to collaborate and share (Broadway) here is great. We have to learn from it," Schumacher said about his venture with Broadway in India. 

Talking about his expectations from "Beauty and the Beast" in India, Schumacher said that his team "will learn a lot in the course of the show's run run here." 

"If you were to see 'Lion King', it is always replica of the original production. In other territories, it becomes wiser to work with local characters. In the case of 'Beauty and the Beast', we have a local team, local designers, local director and choreographer. 

Schumacher, who has overseen 21 of Disney's major animated features, says his goal is to see how the Broadway production will work in India. 

"You have a rich and vibrant artistic culture, wherever you go. Art is present in clothing, wall, architecture. Art is the centre of everything. The question is when we do it with this production, will it be something imported or will it be something grown here," he said. 

"You have access to television, the internet and yet when you look at the most vibrant things here, the Bollywood industry for example, that is still local content. It is specific to the taste and point of view here. My goal is to experiment and see how does something work in a local scene. How does it play? Does it work?" he added. 

About the core essentialities of a Broadway production, Schumacher said it is a "very layered piece of theatre", which requires cohesion and synchronicity. 

"In a musical, everyone has to work independently, but then we must all come together. That can't happen in a film, where people can make a movie and never meet. The unique thing about a stage production is that everyone is simultaneously in the same space. That is risky, because it is live and happening, but that is also what I find the most enchanting," he added. 

Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, the classical musical love story boasts of music by Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, with additional songs with music by Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice.

Some eminent names involved in the Indian production include Vikranth Pawar (show director and creative head, live entertainment at Disney India), Lesle Lewis (music direction), Terence Lewis (choreography), Varsha Jain (set design), Gavin Miguel (costume design), Pallavi Devika (hair and make-up) and Suzanne D'Mello (vocal training).

The musical, which opened in Mumbai on Thursday, will continue in the city till Sunday and it will be again staged there between October 30-November 1. 

In Delhi, the musical opens on December 19.


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