Going Beyond the Script
Beauty and the Beast Backdrops and Scenic Perspectives
The beloved tale of Beauty and the Beast is set in an enchanted world where true love overcomes curses and reality is more than skin-deep. With award winning musical numbers, elaborate costumes, and cheeky humor, Beauty and the Beast is a “tale as old as time” that speaks to the human condition at every age. Beauty and the Beast can be presented in many scenic fashions, from very Disneyesque to Dark and Dangerous, depending on the director, actors, and prospective audiences.
Once Upon a Time:
Our story begins with the voice of our Narrator. He tells us about a selfish young Prince and an old Beggar Woman. For this scene, choose TheatreWorld’s ENCHANTED LIVE OAK backdrop and flood the stage with thick low-lying fog and use a blue or light purple up light at the center of this drop. This will also help illuminate the fog and give a really cool mystical glow.
In order to encompass your entire story within the Enchantress’ framework, use the GRAY FULL MOON LEGS and HEADER also. These will be useful for all the wooded scenes, especially if you use the up light on the Enchanted Live Oak whenever the characters are near Beast’s castle or he is in the scene. For the village scenes, you can pull the Legs off-stage slightly, but still leave a hint of them visible to the audience.
As is typical in the European countryside, not far off from the dark and scary woods is a quaint little village full of ordinary people going about their daily lives. In stark contrast to the enchanted woods, TheatreWorld’s OLDE EUROPEAN VILLAGE is simple, bright, and carefree. No curses or enchantments find their way into these homes.
Just past the village sits a warm cottage where Belle and her father live. Due to financial considerations or timing, if you are not planning on building Belle’s Cottage, use TheatreWorld Backdrops’ scenic WHIMSICAL COTTAGE backdrop instead. You may also try creating some additional set pieces in front of it to help tie the setting together, such as a well, clothesline, or garden.
If you are planning to create Belle’s Cottage as a set piece, try using this ENCHANTED FOREST STREAM backdrop. It is the perfect, happy, peaceful backdrop for Belle. You can just imagine her standing on the bridge, watching the water pass by, and thinking of all the places that the water travels. Perhaps Beast’s castle is just downstream…
Like all good old European towns, the tavern is the center of social activity. Gaston and his adoring fans would fit perfectly in TheatreWorld’s OLD WORLD TAVERN INTERIOR backdrop. Simply add some additional wooden benches or barrels, a bunch of metal steins, and some rich warm amber and orange lights to complete this scene.
A large portion of the story occurs in the Beast’s castle. There are countless rooms and corridors, dungeons, and grand ballrooms alike. Above all, the castle should maintain the “enchanted” feeling; something’s not quite right. The castle doors open to allow a poor, weary traveler some rest. Our first step inside reveals the HAUNTED MANSION FOYER. It shows neglect; something that was once magnificent is now left to the fate of time. Dim, cold lighting, and an empty stage, save for our two enchanted characters, are all that meet our senses.
The stranger is discovered! The beast throws him – and your audience – into the mystical dungeon, where the FIREPLACE OF THE ELEMENTS tells a story of dark enchantment and magic. Use purple and green beams of light or gobos to give a great eerie effect. Let your imagination run wild with the jail cell design. Is it iron bars? Are there twisted roots? Are there some ancient runes etched into the walls?
Upon Belle’s arrival in the castle, she is allowed to stay in a room other than the dungeon. Here we can finally start to see some semblance of what once was. Using the TheatreWorld’s VICTORIAN PALACE BALLROOM backdrop, you can start to see the castle in a more warming light. This backdrop can be used for a variety of rooms in the castle, including Belle’s room, the dining room, and the grand library. Simply add set pieces at various locations on the stage to indicate the different rooms.
Be Our Guest:
The dining room, however, should have a little something extra. Bring out the VICTORIAN RUBY CURTAINS LEGS and HEADER and add colorful dancing spotlights, bubble makers, and choreographed napkins to create your own version of the iconic “Be Our Guest” number. (Please note, Red, Blue, and Green legs and headers are also available.)
Tale as Old as Time:
In the course of Belle’s stay in the castle, she eventually starts to fall in love with the Beast. This culminates in the most well-known musical number from the show “Beauty and the Beast,” as sung by Mrs. Potts. TheatreWorld Backdrops’ BAROQUE WINDOWS allow for the light of true love to shine through and into our hearts; a perfect fit for a grand ballroom.
As the story goes, Gaston hatches a plan to kill the Beast and rile up the villagers. They all go to attack the enchanted castle and are ultimately defeated by its denizens. Beast is struck a mortal wound, but ultimately triumphs over Gaston. Belle sees the Beast lying on the floor, goes to his side, and as the original story goes:
“‘How wicked I am’, she said to herself ‘to make a Beast suffer so when he has been so kind to me… It is neither good looks nor wit in a husband which makes his wife content; it is goodness of character, virtue and obligingness, and the Beast has all these good qualities…'”
She professes her love and magically, the curse is lifted, and the Prince is restored.
As the director, it is your choice which backdrop to use for this triumphant moment. Choose the last drop featured here, the BAROQUE WINDOWS, to truly highlight the moment where Belle’s love breaks the enchantment. Alternately, use just the scrim with a festival of lights. Either way, this moment should be powerfully epic.
Personally, I would use the first backdrop (ENCHANTED LIVE OAK) as it was the original enchanted view and I’m a sucker for storybook endings that bring the audience full-circle. If you have the ability, during the transformation itself, drop the backdrop – let the enchantment fall to the stage and disappear into the fog. (Please be gentle on our backdrops, though.) You can even let the BAROQUE WINDOWS be revealed at that point, brightly lit and with the Prince restored. TheatreWorld Backdrops’ collection for Beauty and the Beast will enable you to present your imagery in a variety of styles and approaches to enhance your vision of this classic masterpiece.
Happily Ever After:
This entire story pushes the audience to look deeper and to go beyond the surface of their given reality. In that same token, don’t limit yourself to staging and design just because this is a Disney story and has been done a certain way. Be creative, try something new, increase the mystical factor, and show a decisive difference between Gaston and Beast in more than just looks.
Make your performance unique and stand out from the masses. Embrace the Beast. Please visit TheatreWorld Backdrops’ Customer Spotlight page to see multiple scenic approaches to presenting Beauty and the Beast. Our team would be happy to assist you with your stage or themed event backdrop selections, so please call or chat with our team at your convenience.