The upcoming larger-than-life musical, Disney’s Beauty And The Beast (BATB), supported by Hindustan Times, is one of the most-awaited events on the city’s culture calendar. Based on the eponymous Academy Award-winning animated feature film, the grandeur of the production is at par with the musical’s international stagings.
Ahead of its premiere in Mumbai, we caught up with the director of BATB, Vikranth Pawar, to learn more about what went into the making of the production, the challenges he faced, and more.
How did the idea of the production come up?
The idea to work on BATB came up in January this year. After I watched a touring production of BATB when I was in Europe, I thought it would be a good idea to make it more emotive and experimental for Indian audiences. That’s how the idea of a 360-degree act came up. It gave us the freedom to think big. The journey has been quite eccentric from the word go. This is the first time that a theatrical show will happen in a small arena. So, the action will take place around the audience and not on stage.
Do you think Broadway-styled musicals have scope in India?
I think it will do really well. Musicals, with such finesse, give the artiste a bigger scale to perform on, and also a greater chance to think big. Also, people in India have become open to newer forms of entertainment. So, the format of Broadway will be a welcome change. But since this will be the first-ever show, it’s difficult to talk about the future of the medium.
You have spent a lot of time doing theatre. How was the experience of working on this production different from your earlier projects?
There wasn’t much of a difference, except for the fact that the scale that a Broadway-styled musical offers is much bigger. You have to constantly challenge yourself to think differently. But the base is still theatrical.
What were the biggest challenges that you faced while working on BATB?
What’s a show without a challenge (laughs)? This act gave us a chance to push the envelope, and try out different things.
Tell us about the research you did for the production.
We went around India to look for the right venues. Beyond the research, we also focused a lot on the script. Casting also required a lot of work, as members of the cast were required to sing, dance and act live. We are very happy with the kind of talent that we have found. Meher Mistry, who plays the role of Belle in the act, is a wonderful artiste. She is a gifted singer, and has a great stage presence. Edwin Joseph, who plays the beast in the musical, has been quite a discovery for us. We spotted him in Delhi. He is just 21, and has done theatre at the college level. He has been trying to become an opera singer.
What are your expectations from the upcoming show? Where all will the production travel to?
As of now, we are only focusing on our shows in Mumbai and Delhi. We have put in a lot of hard work. Three hundred people have worked day in and day out to make this happen.