Yes, the tale as old as time, “Beauty and the Beast,” is making its Broadway musical tour stop in Milwaukee to amaze audiences young and old once again. The eighth longest running Broadway musical will take the stage at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts beginning Tuesday, March 17.
“Beauty and the Beast” tells the classic story of Belle, a young lady living in a small town, and the Beast, who is actually a prince cursed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved in return, his curse will end and he will be transformed back into his former self.
The musical score of “Beauty and the Beast” contains six original songs from the feature Disney film, one song cut from the film that has been restored for the musical, and six original songs written for the musical.
The tour brings five trucks on the road to transport the sets, costumes, and props from city to city along with the cast and crew traveling on two buses. The production features 580 costume pieces and 81 wigs for the 30 cast members, each playing many different roles.
One of those costumes is worn by cast member Emily Jewell. Jewell has been in countless productions including “My Heart in a Suitcase,” “Avenue Q,” “John and Jen,” “Or,” and “The Last Five Years.” But in this show, she plays the role of the bubbly teapot, Mrs. Potts. Before the show makes it stop in Milwaukee, I had the opportunity to interview Jewell about tour life and her life in general.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Washington, Iowa. It’s a small town in the southeastern corner. I then went to Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin where I studied musical theatre performance.
Why did you choose to go into acting?
When I was two years old, I taught myself how to use a VCR and watched “The Sound of Music” endlessly. That kind of started it all. Then, fast-forward a couple years to when I was 8 years old and was in my first community theatre production.
What are some memorable experiences on tour?
Honestly, night after night, I just love being able to see the audience’s reactions to the show and I love being able to share the amazing talent and this story with so many different audiences across the country.
Do you get to explore much of the cities while touring?
We get to be tourists in the cities we stop at and that’s really nice. I mean we have to work at night when everyone else is done working, but we have off time during the day to explore. There has been lots of great food and museums in the cities. We’ve gotten to visit a lot of cities I’ve never been to before like Seattle and Vancouver! Coming back to the Midwest for runs in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Minneapolis will be nice to see friends and family, since I’m from the area.
You have lived in California and New York. Where did you like better?
When I was living in Santa Barbara, I ran my own theater company with a friend and we were able to produce plays and musicals that we were passionate about. I really got to know the community well while there, so that was great. But I made the move to New York, because that is where a lot of Broadway shows come out of, which is ideal for actors like me. I mean shows come out of Los Angeles and Chicago, but New York is the hub obviously.
Do you have a personal connection to the feature film?
Yes, of course! That came out when I was 10 I think, so I grew up watching it. All your favorite things are in the show like “Be Our Guest” and all of the great characters. The Broadway musical has new stuff as well that adds to the classic movie.
If you could play another character, what would you choose?
I really love playing Mrs. Potts in this show. I don’t think I could pick another character to play for this one, but one of my dream roles is Maria in “The Sound of Music.”
Any other memorable or favorite shows you’ve been in?
I played Kate Monster in “Avenue Q” and I was Jen in “John & Jen.” I also played Aphra Behn in “Or,” which is about the first professional female playwright.
A little off topic, but I noticed in the skills part of your resume, you’re a certified Zumba instructor? What is that like? Is it more of a hobby?
It’s really fun! Yes, it is more of a hobby. Especially with being on the road, it’s hard to teach or take a class. But I do it because it’s definitely a great creative outlet for me!
You definitely have a built resume with lots of experience. Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to pursue acting?
Absolutely! It’s honestly all about perseverance and hard work. If it’s something that you’re passionate about and really want do, then do it! You’ll never know when this kind of opportunity in your life will come up again.
What does the timeline look like for the touring show? After BATB, what is next for you?
We started rehearsals in August and the tour started in September. The tour will close May 17. As for what’s next, I don’t know! You’ll have to stay tuned on that one!
“Beauty and the Beast” performs at the Marcus Center all week starting March 17 at 7:30 pm and runs through March 22. Tickets are available at the Marcus Center Box Office at 929 N. Water St., by phone at 414-273-7206, or online.
For those students that are still in Milwaukee and are looking for something to do during spring break, buy a ticket and see this timeless Broadway musical! Be sure to take advantage of the lottery student rush tickets the Marcus Center offers for only $25. The lottery opens two hours prior to the show. All you need to bring is a valid high school or college student ID and $25 cash.