Alan Menken (composer), Bill Codon (director) and the film’s stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Josh Gad, Luke Evans.
It was so nice to meet composer Alan Menken along with Director Bill Codon while out in Hollywood. They are very well respected in their fields and they were extremely happy to work with Disney on the film Beauty and the Beauty (which by the way is the number one movie in the country right now). During the press conference, Mr. Menken played the piano, while Actors Josh Gad & Luke Evans did a musical presentation. They all are so talented indeed! Just so you know how good Beauty and the Beast is, it racked in over $174 million opening weekend, wow! If you have not seen it, please try and go because it really is a wonderful film! The music is amazing as well. So anyway, we got a chance to sit down and talk with Bill and Alan about their career, working together and more inside…
Q&A With Bill and Alan
Working with Emma Watson?
Bill: He knew of Emma from the movie Harry Potter. He met her while filming a movie Mr. Holmes. He found out that she loved Beauty and the Beast as well and when she came in for a reading for the movie, she had a stack of books in her hand. That was his Belle.
What drew you to Beauty and the Beast?
Alan: I was drawn to the story by Disney. I mean it was basically Howard Ashman and I were working Little Mermaid, it hadn’t been released yet but people were very happy with it and they said how about Beauty and the Beast. We’re interested in doing that next. I have to say Howard and I actually, we had Aladdin but Aladdin had to go back to development because we were a bit too edgy. There was more development work to do on that so Beauty and the Beast then came in and became the next thing we worked on together.
Bill: I have to say it was, so I come in. There’s this movie, this classic, perfect movie that already exists and for me more than anything it was the score, the chance to really roll around in that music and to restage it. To do a new version of it in a live action format especially those songs. It just felt to me like a once in a lifetime opportunity.
You guys have been in this business for a long time. What would you tell yourself early on?
What would I tell? Well, it’s just stuff I’ve learned. I mean one of the most important things I learned in my career was it’s not about me. It’s about the characters and the story and don’t ever fall in love with your own material. Let other people fall in love with it if they want and if you have a note, the best way to address a note is to go okay, and just do it because you’re part of a thing that’s larger than you and the more, that’s what’s great about musical theater also.
The more that you’re recognizing that your part is bigger than you and you are a part of that and just stay in the process that you can survive. I mean the most tragic thing and you can see this too is people who go I wrote this wonderful music. I don’t know why it wasn’t a hit. I gotta try. I gotta keep working. I don’t understand why they didn’t like it. It’s just tragic. Don’t try it out. Push it aside and go on to something else. Write another musical and another and another. Just move on and don’t get stuck, you know, being the nurse mate to your own material.
Bill: Very well put.
How did you guys work together throughout everything?
Bill: For me I was intimidated at our first meeting because here I am and I’m sort of talking about the first possible new song and this is a legendary composer but also it’s a property that as we keep saying is perfect on its own, but Alan is a direct opposite of that. I think Alan as a man of the theatre, is somebody who craves the dialogue and the collaboration. I think that’s what it’s about and that became clear very, very soon, you know. We just started a conversation, you know, it went on for a couple of years, right?
Alan: Also, we’re both professionals. We both have done a lot of work. We know what’s necessary in order to collaborate and there are people who are new to musicals and will try to reinvent the wheel in one direction or another but we both have been through so much and when you’re a pro you basically arrived at the same place kind of because you know what’s important and you know what needs to get done and you know the necessity of process and I know that for me to go back to Beauty and the Beast on my own, no way I could do it.
Beauty and the Beast in theaters now!
Images via Disney