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Beauty And The Beast

Beauty And The Beast


Grant Meese lives two very different lives, both of them requiring large
stocks of energy, flair and commitment.

The Auckland resident regularly travels the world as an Air New Zealand
flight attendant but, on landing back in New Zealand, instantly transforms
himself into the director of internationally-acclaimed musicals.

Grant's most challenging production to date, 'Beauty and the Beast', is due
to open at Takapuna's Bruce Mason Theatre on 9th September, having already
delighted an estimated 17 million people around the world and become the
sixth longest-running show ever to hit Broadway.

The musical is based on the much-loved Walt Disney film, itself derived from
a fairy story with roots in ancient European legends. The production will
bring together more than 40 of Auckland's best musical stage performers, a
70-strong backstage crew and some of the most dazzling special effects and
pyrotechnics ever seen in the New Zealand theatre.

"It was already a rich and magical musical before reaching New Zealand. But
a breathtaking new element has been added here, thanks to the amazing sets,
costumes and prosthetic masks designed by WETA workshop. These have already
prompted rave reactions in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and are
likely to do so again when the show opens in Auckland," says Grant.

"It's incredibly exciting to be part of this production and a real joy to
find myself engulfed by it every time I return to New Zealand," he says,
adding that he is equally passionate about both his theatre work and his
in-flight role.

"The two sides of my life actually tend to complement each other pretty
well. One of the plusses of frequent international travel is that I get
opportunities to see shows overseas, which helps me to continue educating
myself about the musical theatre.

"Another advantage is the flexibility allowed by the flying roster. I can
plan my leave to be off the roster for three to four weeks immediately prior
to the opening of Beauty and the Beast, in order to concentrate wholly on
the production. There aren't a lot of jobs where you could do that.

"Like many frequent flyers, I've got used to adjusting my sleep pattern to
circumstances. That too can be an advantage when directing a top quality
musical as it isn't an occupation which tends to leave you with much time
for sleep," he adds.

Growing up on the North Shore, Grant first became involved with the theatre
at the age of ten and has since worked on a wide range of productions with
ensembles from across Auckland. Musicals are his greatest love and in
recent years he has directed critically-acclaimed versions of 'Jesus Christ
Superstar', Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Aspects of Love' and George Gershwin's
'Crazy for You'.

Grant reserves high praise for the cast and production team of 'Beauty and
the Beast' which includes members from all over Auckland and from Whangarei,
brought together by the North Shore Music Theatre.

"All of the cast have had musical theatre experience and some have been in
other great North Shore Music Theatre productions such as 'Les Miserables'
and 'My Fair Lady'. I'm more than confident that they will do the show, the
music and Disney more than justice.

"The artistic team, including Musical Director Adrian Hirst Choreographer
Rhonda Daverne and Vocal Coach Robyn Kennerley have put in a huge effort,
particularly whilst I've been overseas. We work in a very interactive way
and it's very much a team approach," he says

Beauty and the Beast tells the mythic story of a beautiful young woman named
Belle, and a handsome but self-absorbed prince turned into the hideous Beast
by a witch's spell. If the Beast can find someone who loves him for himself,
despite his looks, and if he can love her back, the spell will be broken.

Music for the production was composed by Alan Menken, whose film credits
include Disney's 'Pocahontas' smash hit and number one single 'A Whole New
World', 'Aladdin' and 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'. The lyrics are the work
of Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

"Although the Disney film was originally intended for children, it was
peppered both with sophisticated humour and psychological insights. These
characteristics are even more obviously present in the stage musical, making
it ideal entertainment for children and adults alike.

"Add these elements to a great musical score and you can understand why
Beauty and the Beast has been a smash hit worldwide. All the signs are that
it will be similarly successful when it reaches Auckland in September," says
Grant Meese.

Tickets for this breathtaking production are available from Ticketek on
www.ticketek.co.nz or by telephoning 09 307 5000.

Ends

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