Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Brendan Lemon

The Disney version of "Beauty and the Beast" is by far the best-known of the many versions of this classic tale. But, as he was preparing to play the Beast on the current tour, Justin Glaser consulted some of the others. One was the 1946 French film, "La Belle et la Bete," directed by Jean Cocteau.

"I'm a big movie buff," said Glaser, "so I'd seen the Cocteau version a long time ago. But I saw it again more recently. It's a beautiful, passionate story. So is the Disney version, just in a different way."

Glaser, who got his B.F.A. in theatre from Northern Kentucky University, mentioned that he had read an interview with Cocteau where the filmmaker said some people were disappointed that the Beast turned into a Prince. Glaser points out, however, that in the movie there's an exchange that such critics should remember.

"It goes something like this: the Prince says to the Beauty, 'Do you like the way I am now?' And Beauty replies, 'It will take me a while to get used to it.'

The point, Glaser said, "is that a person's image changes over time. In the fairy tale, the hero transforms suddenly from a beast into a prince. But, in real life, people's appearances change more slowly. If you love someone, you love them as they evolve."

That can be hard to do in today's world, observed Glaser, who only started singing seriously once he was in college and who, when he first moved to New York, worked in a brokerage firm. "We live in a consumer-driven society, and perfect celebrity images are put in front of our faces everyday. We're told what type of appearance we should like and be attracted to." He added: "Although 'Beauty and the Beast' has a fairy-tale ending, with a prince, it also says: If you give a chance to someone whose appearance didn't grab you at first, you might be surprised at how your feelings about them can change."

Glaser said that his own feelings - not about a loved one but about his country have evolved since he did his first national tour, of "Annie," earlier this decade. (He's also toured in "Jesus Christ Superstar.") "Touring is an amazing way to see the country. Before going out on the road, I had never been to California. I was surprised and stunned by how beautiful much of that state is." He continued: "But the country has many other beautiful sections.

It's great to get to work in front of so many thousands of people all over the place who appreciate what you are doing."


1 comment:

  1. Just saw Beauty and the Beast in Columbia, SC. Great to see a fellow NKU alumni in the lead role!