PANAMA CITY — Just a mention of “Beauty & the Beast,” and the lyrics from “Be Our Guest” or “Tale As Old As Time” begin to play in my head, surely the case with most parents and Disney fans.
“The songs are so amazing,” said Darick Pead, who stars as Beast in Disney’s Broadway musical.
The national touring production stops in town Tuesday at the Marina Civic Center, where guests are sure to get swept away when the orchestra starts up. Disney’s “Beauty & the Beast” features the animated film’s Academy Award-winning score with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, with additional songs with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice.
“Everything is basically the same as the movie, but it’s cooler live — anything can happen,” Darick said by phone from Baltimore, Md., on Monday. “New songs have been added for Belle, and I have a song I sing. Belle (Hilary Maiberger) is everything you could ever want in a Disney princess. She’s got the look. She’s got the voice. She’s got the acting.”
But it’s not just principal characters who stand out in their lavish costumes. The Ensemble also has been so phenomenal, Darick said, even Director Rob Roth has had no notes for them.
“The director comes out and the show remains in pristine condition,” Darick said. “I tend to look at it that for somebody in the audience, it is their first show. And for someone, it will be the last, the last chance to see a Broadway show, a great experience. It helps me maintain my level of professionalism and consistency.”
The tour began in September, though rehearsal for the production began in June, so Darick has had plenty of time to refine his part. The outward transformation of Darick into the Beast takes about 25 minutes, with another 10 to put on the costume.
“I have to start an hour before the show — a lot of make up, a couple of prosthetic pieces and wigs for the beard and my head,” Darick said. “It’s funny, walking around 30 minutes or so in jeans or pants and an ugly beast face, then I put on pads like a football uniform of some sort and I’m ready to go.”
To keep the show from becoming too “cartoony,” he said, “you have to bring real-life elements and experiences into it. … Adults understand what love means, but kids can see it too. Love really does look behind imperfections and at the heart of who you really are.”
Darick said his favorite scene as the Beast is when he goes from “getting ready for the dance,” trying so hard, to “letting Belle go.”
“Love isn’t about him, or him and her. Love is about her,” he said. “This is what love is, letting go. It’s a transformation.”
Belle must look into his eyes to see who he is.
“She’s always looking through the heart of people,” Darick said. “What’s beautiful to me is somebody absolutely caring. I love eyes. There’s something about eyes I can’t stop looking at, to feel life of person through their eyes.”
Darick’s fifth grade teacher in Utah “saw something else inside” of him and encouraged him to audition for the school’s production of “Wizard of Oz.”
“I was a really bad student and didn’t like doing school,” Darick admitted. “I had no idea if I was good at anything. … I had all ‘N’s. She said, ‘let’s see if we can cultivate something else.’”
Even though he was behind in his school work, he tried out for the play.
“I remember being super awesome as Toto,” he said. “I had the best bark.”
When Darick got the part as Scarecrow, he was so disappointed.
“What? I have to sing a stupid song and have 72 lines to memorize?” he recalls thinking. “But I took it and absolutely loved it.”
And so did the audience — he was hooked.
Darick continued to pursue acting, later attending Brigham Young University before he moved to New York, where his own fairy tale began.
‘BEAUTY & THE BEAST’
What: Disney’s Broadway Musical
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5
Where: Panama City Marina Civic Center
Tickets: $55, $45; discounts available for seniors, military and ages 12 and younger.
Details or tickets: (850) 763-4696 or MarinaCivicCenter.com.