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    Anthony LaGuardia of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

    1-Page 17-Anthony LaGuardia2

    Wisconsin native Anthony LaGuardia is definitely more handsome beauty than beast. As a cast member of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” on stage, he helps to bring life to this “tale as old as time” that has numerous connections to our community. The Academy Award-winning music is by Alan Menken and the lyrics are by the late Howard Ashman. Ashman died of AIDS-related complications on March 14, 1991, eight months prior to the release of the film version. (Menken and Tim Rice wrote additional lyrics for the stage show.)

    The story, with its rejected and bullied “Beast” and unconditional love, appeals to kids, but resonates for so many of us. LaGuardia and his other talented colleagues bring it all to life on stage at the Curran Theater. Here, LaGuardia shares what’s in store for audiences.

    BT: Please tell us about the production, and what theatergoers can
    expect.

    AL: This NETworks’ production is the story of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” come to life on stage. The story is such a classic, and rings so true as you watch it unfold in front of you. With our production the actors and the music, with the help of an out-of-this-world set and costume design, set the mood for audiences to fall in love all over again with this story of strength, recognizing differences, and hope and love against all odds.

    BT: Are many of the songs and scenes the same from Disney’s movie version of the story? How are the show and movie different?

    AL: Now it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and watched the movie, but in comparing the two to my memory of the film, they are more or less the same. There will be little differences here or there because in any screen to stage adaptation there are some details lost and some gained, but I assure you it is the same Disney story that you’ve been watching and loving for years. There are, however, some new songs in the show that were added to the Broadway production back in the 90’s as well as one that was written for the movie, but was left out and, of course, the classic favorite title song “Beauty and the Beast” is in the show.

    BT: Please highlight any connections- either past or present- between your show and the gay community.

    AL: Well, the gay community is well represented in our cast, as well as our musicians, crew, and creative team. And those who aren’t gay in our production are supportive and active members in our community who are embracing and accepting of us. After all, we are in the theatre, (so) isn’t some amount of gay representation expected? And, of course, the show itself has underlying themes of acceptance and coming together to embrace differences. Belle says at one point in the show: “In the town where I come from, people think I’m odd, so I know what it’s like to feel different, and I know how lonely it can be.” And that’s how their love story really sets into motion.

    BT: Is the show particularly magical for kids? How about kids at heart?

    AL: I think that “magic” is the best encompassing theme to describe the show. Kids fall in love with the show every night, watching the story that they love come to life in front of them, and seeing these characters that they idolize in real life. It’s exciting to watch them laugh and awe over the magic of the show, from the first moment they see Belle on stage to when the Beast and the Enchanted objects are introduced, and especially when they see the magical love story between the “Beauty” and the “Beast” set in motion. I don’t know any child or adult who wouldn’t find the magic in a story like this. It truly is a show for all ages.

    BT: Where are you from, and what do you look forward to the most when visiting San Francisco?

    AL: I am originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, but have been living in New York City for five years now, and I have to say I am ecstatic about visiting San Francisco. I have never been farther west than Colorado, and I can’t wait to see the West Coast. I am most excited about exploring The Castro neighborhood and learning about the history of San Francisco. As a culture, it has so much history to be learned about the gay community. I am really excited to see what life is like in a city that I have heard so much about, but never really seen.

    We are very excited to travel to San Francisco and to perform this iconic Disney tale. A lot of us have been waiting for our tour stop in Frisco and look forward to the overwhelming excitement from the audiences there. See you soon!

    “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” will be at the Curran Theater in San Francisco from December 21-January 5. For tickets and additional information, please go to: www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/about-the-show.