The “tale as old as time” somehow never seems to get old. Last night my family and I went to see the live production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Civic Theatre (thanks to the complimentary tickets I received from Broadway San Diego) and I watched the classic story unfold in front of me, almost as if I had never seen it, yet, with the same warm familiarity of a beloved book on the 4th or 5th read.
We were all in awe of how closely the characters and the costumes resembled the movie, yet with their own flare and nuance. The sets, the lighting, the voices and of course the voices, came together in a perfect way to re-create the love story of Belle and the young prince turned Beast. Everything about it looked and felt just like a story book. My kids were thoroughly entertained throughout and couldn’t stop saying, “oh mom, I love this.”
Before seeing the show, I had the privilege of interviewing the actor who is playing Lumiere in this particular touring production of Beauty and the Beast, Hassan Nazari-Robari. He was just as delightful to chat with as he was to watch as the french wooer made of wax. The only difference is that in real life, there is no hint of a french accent. Read below for the highlights on our chat, including his clever answer as to how his “candle hands” light up, and whether he listens to Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber.
BACKGROUND ON HASSAN:
Hassan is from Oklahoma City, where he studied musical theatre at Oklahoma City University. After graduation, he moved to The Big Apple and landed his first paying gig in an off-off-off Broadway show. He then learned about the auditions for the traveling production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and scored the coveted, bright and shiny role of Lumiere, the loveable candlestick, for which he’s performed over 375 shows.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR Q & A:
Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of doing this show?
A: It’s a story for all ages and a wide audience. Adults who grew up on the movie want to revisit it, and want to expose it to their kids. So many people love the characters and we want to make sure we are doing them justice.
Q: What’s your favorite scene?
A: I love the scene in which the Beast is getting ready for his dinner with Belle. So beautifully written.
Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of playing an inanimate object?
A: The most physical challenge is the “candle hands.” It’s difficult to find different ways to animate when I don’t have that my hands to gesture. And I have to ask other cast members to do certain things for me backstage, like hand me a tissue. Round doorknobs are my nemesis.
Q: What makes your costume light up?
A: Well, it’s a little bit of Disney Magic.
Q: If you could play any role on stage, what would it be?
A: Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors is my dream role.
Q: Has there been a time when you cracked up or lost character?
A: (shortened answer) No, but sometimes the kids in the audience will yell out, as if it’s a Dora the Explorer episode, which will make us all laugh a little.
RAPID FIRE QUESTION SESSION: (his answers in italics)
American Idol or The Voice? American Idol
Warm weather or cold? Cold
Hot Chocolate or Coffee? Coffee (though I like them both)
Les Mis or Phantom? Les Mis
Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber? Justin Timberlake. Growing up an ‘N Sync fan, I have to go with Timberlake.
Favorite Social Media platform? Facebook, with Instagram as a close second (follow him on Instagram at @Etownbrown88 to follow his journey through the various tour cities)
Hope you’ll all go out to see the show! For show times and tickets check out the Broadway San Diego site. If you’re not in the San Diego area, check out this listing of tour stops for this particular production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast by NETworks.
Big thanks to Hassan for taking the time to speak with me, and to Broadway San Diego for setting up the interview and treating our family to a fantastic night at the theatre! All opinions are my own.