Beauty and the Beast as we know it today is wrapped in magic, love, and singing pots. But is that how it started? To appreciate what we have, we must also look at what was.
Stories like Beauty and the Beast have been around for centuries. Before this tale was written on French paper, oral storytelling of beautiful women marrying beasts that turned into just as beautiful men were common. These traditions took place throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and India. In fact, Africa and China are both known for their stories of a snake marrying a young girl. In Norway, a white bear marries a human bride.
Then, in 1740, a woman named Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Gallon de Villeneuve wrote a French booked called La Jeune Américaine, et las Contes Marins which translates to The Young American and Tales of the Sea. Inside this book were many stories, one of which was “La Belle et la Bête”. This version was long and had some parts… children could do without.
Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont agreed, and thus made an abridged version (also in French) in 1757 for Magasin de Enfants (The Young Misses Magazine). This version was translated into English (finally!) as what we know today as “Beauty and the Beast.” This version is the most familiar to us, although some parts are still very different—no singing pots for example. You can actually read Beaumont’s version, in English here.
Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful story, adapted into a musical for audiences of all ages to enjoy. The tale speaks of the importance of goodwill, humility, and the strength of love against all things, including curses.
We hope that you will enjoy our rendition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. this December, as many have enjoyed this tale for so long. Keep a lookout for tickets!