Sam Hartley is 6'3" but even that wasn't tall enough for the role he has to fill. So, thanks to quite a bit of Disney costume design magic Hartley grows four inches to 6'7” on stage so that he can better portray the character of the Beast, in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
In other costume magic, the pieces that he wears on his face that transform him into the Beast aren't confining. “They still allow me full mobility and facial expressions. At this point in the tour, it's become second skin.” So much so, that he says that it carries over into his off-stage life; he sometimes checks for his tail while walking down the street.
Broadway at the Hobby is bringing back the modern classic the story of two people finding each other's inner beauty and integrity. Both are seen as outsiders in their own society – Belle, who's viewed as odd because she's always day dreaming with her head in a book and the Beast, because of his monstrous appearance.
Hartley, who's on his first national tour, also sees it as the story of his character who makes a horrible mistake in judgment as a young man, but does he really deserve to be ostracized and punished forever?
Historical note: Disney's Beauty and the Beast premiered in Houston in 1993 in a co-production by Theatre Under the Stars and Disney Theatricals. With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Woolverton, the musical went on to become a worldwide success.
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Performances are scheduled for April 27 through May 1 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org. $25-$135.