Shubshri Kandiah reveals favourite books for Book Week 2023

Shubshri-Kandiah-as-Belle-in-Disney's-Beauty-and-the-Beast-photo-by-Ben-KingAcclaimed songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman are generally credited with launching the renaissance of Disney Animation with their animated classic The Little Mermaid in 1989.

For Beauty and the Beast, Linda Woolverton, a young TV writer new to the world of musicals, was chosen to write the screenplay and work closely with lyricist Ashman, an intimidating figure and a master of the musical form.

Ashman and Woolverton had a shared vision of a Disney heroine who was a reader and a thinker, a young woman who was not longing for a prince. She is an avid reader who wears glasses, makes active choices for herself and doesn’t rely on her looks, her charm or a sword to fulfill her aspirations.

“This was a new concept, and we had to do some convincing to create the Belle we all know,” said Woolverton.

Thomas Schumacher, Producer and President at Disney Theatrical Productions, says Belle means a great deal to the young women of today, and the original fans, now grown women, running things and leading others.

“I don’t think we were aware of how meaningful Belle was – or how strongly she conveys the fundamental truth that educated women are powerful role models,” he said.

Currently starring in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Shubshri Kandiah has a love of books in common with her character Belle.

“Belle has always been one of my favourite Disney characters. She is a dreamer and fiercely intelligent. Her love for books and the power of story is something we both believe in,” says Kandiah.

Shubshri Kandiah’s Favourite Books:

  • Favourite childhood book: They Came on Viking Ships by Jackie French
  • Favourite teen book: Anything written by Nicholas Sparks
  • Currently on my bedside table: The Survivors by Jane Harper
  • Book that changed the way I think: The Good People by Hannah Kent
  • Book that everyone should read: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • Book that inspired me: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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.

Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (Aladdin, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Frozen) this new production of Beauty and the Beast brings back members of the original creative team from the ground-breaking Broadway musical to reimagine this much-loved classic tale.

Olivier Award nominee Matt West directs and choreographs, leading a team that includes original composer Alan Menken, lyricist Tim Rice, book writer Linda Woolverton, scenic designer Stan Meyer and lighting designer Natasha Katz.8

This new stage production of Beauty and the Beast 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.

Longtime Menken collaborators Michael Kosarin and Danny Troob are musical supervisor/vocal arranger and orchestrator, and the production features new dance arrangements by David Chase.

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.

Joining Shubshri Kandiah, the stellar Australian principal cast includes Brendan Xavier as The Beast, Rohan Browne as Lumiere, Jackson Head as Gaston, Gareth Jacobs as Cogsworth, Jayde Westaby as Mrs Potts, Nick Cox as Le Fou, Rodney Dobson as Belle’s father, Maurice, Hayley Martin as Babette and Alana Tranter as Madame.

Beauty and The Beast is produced in Australia by The Walt Disney Company and Disney Theatrical Productions, under the supervision of Thomas Schumacher and is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.

Beauty and the Beast is playing at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre and is currently booking through to 30 December 2023. For more information, visit:

Book Week continues to 25 August 2023. This year’s theme is Read, Grow, Inspire. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Shubshri Kandiah as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – photo by Ben King