Disney announces Australia’s Gaston, Le Fou and Maurice

Beauty-and-the-Beast-Andy-Cook,-Nick-Cox-and-Rodney-DobsonThe Walt Disney Company has announced the three incredible performers that have been cast in the roles of Gaston, Maurice and Le Fou when Beauty and the Beast has its Australian premiere at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre in June 2023.

Andy Cook will step into the role of Gaston, Le Fou will be played by Nick Cox and Rodney Dobson will play Belle’s father, Maurice. Beauty and the Beast will be produced in Australia by The Walt Disney Company and Disney Theatrical Productions, under the supervision of Thomas Schumacher.

Hailing from the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Andy originated the role of ‘Wayne Burns’ in the world premiere of Strictly Ballroom the Musical and is currently playing ‘The Duke’ in Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

Exciting newcomer Nick Cox will make his professional musical theatre debut as Gaston’s hilarious buddy, Le Fou.

Central Coast resident Rodney is a seasoned performer also currently performing in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. His extensive theatre credits include the role of Amos Hart in Chicago, Dr Dillamond in Wicked, Thénardier in Les Misérables (25th Anniversary) and many more.

“It has been a great pleasure of mine to witness the extensive Aussie talent in our auditions for this new production,” said the production’s Director & Choreographer Matt West.

“Andy, Nick and Rodney are all such incredible performers and bring their own vibrant and hilarious energy to these iconic characters. We can’t wait to announce the remainder of the cast in the new year,” said West.

The roles of Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts, Babette and Madame will be announced next year.

Based on the 1991 film – the first animated feature ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture – Beauty and the Beast opened on Broadway in April 1994 and garnered nine Tony nominations and one win. It played for more than 13 years on Broadway (before closing in 2007) and remains to this day one of the top 10 longest running shows in Broadway history.

The 2017 live-action retelling of the animated classic starring Emma Watson quickly became the highest grossing live action film musical of all time, a record beaten only by The Lion King live-action release in 2019.

The original Australian production of Beauty and the Beast opened in Melbourne at the Princess Theatre in 1995 starring Rachel Beck in the role of Belle, Michael Cormick as the Beast, a young Hugh Jackman as Gaston, and the late Bert Newton as Cogsworth.

The production played for over two years across Melbourne and Sydney and won the 1996 ARIA Award for Best Australian Soundtrack/Cast/Show Release.

The structure and tone of the story and score – as conceived for the 1991 film by its executive producer and lyricist Howard Ashman with a continued evolution for the Broadway adaptation three years later – made Disney history.

Composer Alan Menken and Ashman’s previous film musical The Little Mermaid was the only prior Disney film structured like a stage musical where the songs are integral to plot and characterisation rather than only ornamental or digressions.

This Menken/Ashman innovation is credited with the 1990’s Disney animation renaissance that went on to create such film classics as Aladdin, The Lion King and Hunchback of Notre Dame and helped re-introduce the book musical form to popular culture.

This new stage production of Beauty features lyrics by Tim Rice and a book by Linda Woolverton.  The work retains the lush period sound of the Oscar-winning and Tony® award nominated score – which brought classics including Be Our Guest and Beauty and the Beast, as well as Change in Me, added to the musical production in 1998 and retained thereafter.

New dance arrangements by David Chase, have allowed original choreographer Matt West to re-visit his work, this time as director and choreographer. Longtime Menken collaborators Michael Kosarin and Danny Troob are musical supervisor/vocal arranger and orchestrator, respectively.

Completing the design team, Tony® award winner John Shivers is sound designer, Darryl Maloney is the video and projections designer, and David H. Lawrence is hair designer. Jim Steinmeyer is the illusions designer, as he was on the original 1994 production.

Beauty and the Beast will have its Australian premiere at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre in June 2023. New tickets are on sale from Thursday 8 December 2022. For more information, visit: www.beautyandthebeastmusical.com.au for details.

Image: Andy Cook, Nick Cox and Rodney Dobson (supplied)