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CultureMob Interviews Beauty and the Beast's Dane Agostinis

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Currently on tour across the US is Disney’s live version of the beloved tale, Beauty And The Beast. For those who are unfamiliar with the animated classic, it’s the story of Belle, and the Beast. She’s a young woman from a provincial town, and the Beast is actually a human prince trapped in a magical spell that can only be broken if he can learn to love and be loved. To make things more difficult, as The Beast, he’s been transformed into an ugly looking creature. The spell has a time limit, and if he doesn’t learn his lesson soon he will be doomed.

It’s a timeless tale and one that you could easily see over and over again every few years. What’s interesting is that this particular rendition of Beauty and the Beast is actually a re-teaming of the original creators of the Broadway production. The play is directed by Rob Roth and choreographed by Matt West, with Costume Design by Ann Hould-Ward (Tony Award® winner for her work on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), Lighting Design by Natasha Katz, Scenic Design by Stanley A. Meyer, Sound Design by John Petrafesa Jr. and Music Supervision by Michael Kosarin. It’s a real opportunity to see the exact kind of play that people from all over the world travel to Broadway in New York or London’s West End (which is where I first saw this production in 2000).

Dane Agostinis as Beast and Emily Behny as Belle. Photo by Joan Marcus

Cast in the role of the Beast is actor Dane Agostinis who has a pretty impressive resume which includes; Oklahoma!, Spelling Bee, Bat Boy, The Full Monty, Side Show, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carousel, Godspell, A View From the Bridge, Debbie Does Dallas and more.

While on tour in Seattle, I had a chance to speak with the Beast – Dane Agostinis:

Allie Hanley: Everyone is familiar with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. How did you first come to knowing the story?

Dane Agostinis: I was a fan of the movie as a kid. I remember watching it and falling in love with all the characters from the start! I was lucky enough to see the production on Broadway as well. I think I only saw it once, and Toni Braxton was playing Belle at the time.

AH: Tell me about the original process for auditioning for the role. Did you start out auditioning for The Beast or as another character?

DA: I went in for the first audition as a replacement in October of 2010. I wasn’t sure if the current Beast at the time was even leaving, and actually was told he wasn’t – so I didn’t think much of the audition at the time. The only thing that stood out was that the director really liked my audition; And he told me that when he calls me back in, to have all the material down cold. I didn’t receive a call-back until January of the next year. Basically  I had thought the guy wasn’t leaving. To my surprise, and then obsession, he was!

So next, I took the material back out and was ready. I had a few callbacks. Each time more and more people were in the room, so it was getting serious. I had my final call-back for Michael Kosarin, the music supervisor associated with Beauty and the Beast.

[During the audition, he] basically had his head down listening to me sing “If I Can’t Love Her,” the Beast’s amazing song that closes the first Act. At the end, I remember seeing a nod to the director and they said, “thank you so much” and I was done. I left the room very positive, but then the waiting and second guessing started to kick in. I was constantly in another state of mind for about a week. When I got the call – finally – and the rest is history!

AH: You’ve been involved with a number of productions including Debbie Does Dallas,  can you tell me some of your favorite roles?

DA: I absolutely loved playing “Jud” in Oklahoma! a few years back. It is a role that I really was able to sink my teeth into and got the most out of as an actor in a long while. There’s nothing quite like the old-school musicals and Rodgers and Hammerstein really wrote beautiful shows. I also had a blast playing “Rick” in Debbie Does Dallas The Musical and I think the title name explains it all!

AH: How does the role of “Jud” compare with your current rendition of “The Beast?”

Dane Agostinis who is rarely recognized as the Beast, out of costume.

DA: For “Jud,” the roles are quite similar. The brooding lonely guy has to find a girl to love. While one is a matter of life or death( as a human), the other might hold just as much weight because Jud sees Laurey as the one for him and ends up dying because of the love he has for her – no matter how misplaced or obsession driven it might be. I definitely have used a lot of Jud in my portrayal of the Beast. For Rick (Debbie Does Dallas), there is no similarity whatsoever! The comedy of the shows could be the only thing that links them, definitely not the content!

AH: Are there some unique challenges to playing this character that are new?

DA: For this role, heavy makeup and costume are so involved. It took a while to get used to everything, but luckily now I have a grasp on everything. As for the music, it lies in a high part in my voice that I have to warm up correctly. If I don’t warm up enough, it takes its toll on my voice. I’ve been able to learn about my voice and the songs a lot from doing this role for so long, and it just gets routine everyday. I’m thankful that it has hit its groove!

AH: What is your favorite song from the production and does it hold any personal meaning for you?

DA: All of the songs in the show are great and memorable! One that stands out for me is the Gaston number where all the ensemble, Gaston and Lefou are dancing with the beer mugs in the tavern. It’s a great song and one that definitely gets the crowd going. I sometimes joke that I’m going to join them on stage someday and just stand in the back clinking mugs to the beat the entire time. Maybe my last show?! haha

AH: You’ve spent some time as a child here in the Pacific Northwest, could you elaborate a little bit on what you remember and what you look forward to doing while in town performing.

DA: I love the Pacific Northwest! I love the greenery everywhere! I can’t wait to get to be able to come back to the city where I once called home and still say I’m from at least partially when asked. I look forward to seeing Seattle as an adult because that will be such a different experience. I want to go to Pike Place Market every day. I look forward to seeing friends and their families, most of which I haven’t seen in 20 years!

AH: What’s the best part about being The Beast?

DA: Oh there is so much. From an acting standpoint, he truly goes through everything in the show and I never get bored when I’m on stage! It’s the time I spend off stage that I get anxious waiting to go on! Another good part is being able to leave the theatre somewhat undetected since it’s hard to recognize me out of the make up and costume, and hearing the people talk about the show. I like having that time to be able to reflect on the show and remember how truly lucky I am to be a part of this show. Being recognized by people isn’t so bad either! haha

The show is currently touring throughout the US and is currently about to start its run in Seattle, WA. For National Tour Dates visit the show’s website at beautyandthebeast.com.

For tickets to the 8 performances in Seattle call 877-STG-4TIX or in person at the Paramount Theatre Box Office. Tickets start at $25 and I was informed that ticket sales are strong for this showing. If you plan on going don’t delay.