In a move that is relatively unique to India, Disney has produced the musical version of the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast, and the results are spellbinding. The popular musical, which is the ninth-longest-running production in history, has opened in over 100 cities worldwide and is now playing to a packed house at Worli's National Sports Club of India, Mumbai.
The experience of watching Beauty and the Beast in Mumbai is quite breathtaking and fairly immersive as it is hard to keep your eyes off those overwhelmingly spectacular sets.
The sheer scale of production is awe-inspiring with stunning coordination of lights that appear to operate with clockwork precision. Featuring a consistently impressive cast -- Meher Mistry as Belle is particularly outstanding -- all the actors have crooned live with the seamlessness of dubbed audio.
Clocking at almost 120 minutes, the Vikranth Pawar-directed show is worth spending time on and gives a wholesome Broadway experience, without having to travel to well, Broadway.
To get a sense of how the production -- touted as one of the most expensive Disney has assembled across the world -- was put together, HuffPost India spoke to the show's set designer Varsha Jain.
"When we read the story, there were few architectural references. Some dialogues within the script explained the time the castle was built, the style in which it was built and details that the architecture had. The time and place where the play is set helped me in referencing for the village as well. For the castle, I followed baroque architecture as a broad line. We were treading on a thin line, not to make it look like a 100% fairytale inspired village/castle and also not be too real."
"We worked on this for almost 120 days, working 12-15 hours every day. On an average, there were a group of 180 people working on it. These 180 included metal workers, fiber moulders, artists, carpenters, painters and more."
"We spent a lot of time to get the transition between Belle’s village to the castle right. The moving rollers and the moving houses did the trick for us eventually. In the dining area, Be Our Guest song was another sequence where we went back and forth multiple times to get the look right."
"Props as you would notice, are larger than life. We had to, therefore, make each one of them. We couldn’t source much from the market. The tavern mugs to gas guns to musical instruments , vases etc. are all hand made."
"During the library scene, when the Beast and the Beauty venture into the cross ramps towards the centre (which was also used in the village scenes) we had to make the audience believe that the swing in which they sit and read is a part of the castle and not the village where few scenes had already happened before. So then we decided to get these ornate cast iron look railings come up from the fascia of the platform, explaining that now this area is the part of the castle."
"The proscenium of the palace was the most interesting piece to assemble. The scale difference between the village houses and the palace was the prime aspect in designing. We spent time detailing each and every minaret of the proscenium. There were close to 108 pieces that were layered to give this look. To give the built heavy stone-period look, we textured the surface with fibre and then layers of different colours were added."
In its second run, Beauty and the Beast is playing this weekend, May 21 and May 22, at NSCI, Worli. You can book your tickets here.