Monday, February 20, 2017

Magic Pencils

Beauty and the Beast
25th Anniversary Celebration
Monday, January 16, 2017
Sunset Showcase Theater

My friends treated me to a special 25th Anniversary Celebration panel discussion of "Beauty and the Beast" at DCA for my birthday.  The panel was moderated by Producer Don Hahn, with animators Andreas Deja (Gaston) and Glen Keane (Beast) and Voice Actor Paige O'Hara (Belle) participating.

  • We got popcorn and candy and soda/water as if we were going to watch a movie!  Look at happy Bananaman!  Yeah, the lighting was weird in there, so forgive the strange hues.

  • Much crying happened, especially when they showed clips of the folks that have passed away, such as Jerry Orbach and Howard Ashman.  Especially Howard Ashman.  Each clip that showed him made my eyes water a lot.  It didn't help when they were talking about how strong he was trying to be during the recording of the music and that the day they were showing was a good day among many bad days for him as he was battling AIDS.  
    Showing clip of Howard Ashman and Paige O'Hara
  • Deja told the story of everyone trying to have input on the way Gaston's chest hair should be drawn, as it was mentioned in the lyric of his song.  He sketched Gaston for us, complete with chest hair.  Deja also animated iconic characters such as Jafar, Scar, and Ariel's dad, Triton. 

Andreas Deja 

  • O'Hara sang "Beauty and The Beast" and "Be Our Guest".  She talked about working on Broadway and being asked to audition for the part, which is always odd the first time because animators do not look at the vocalist when they audition, so that they can try to envision them as the character.  Instead, they look down at their sketches.
    Paige O'Hara
  • Hahn talked about casting Robbie Benson as Beast. Instead of naming the actors, the voices were sent on tape to Keane to see which one he preferred.  Keane immediately found Benson's voice to be perfect as he heard the soulfulness in his voice, unlike the others whom only had the fierceness without the soul.  Benson's part was played down in the press because they didn't think his casting would sell tickets, and they regret that fact.  
    Deja, Keane, O'Hara, Hahn
  • Keane, who also animated Aladdin, Elliott, Tarzan, and my girl Ariel, talked about the many incarnations of Beast.  He had several animal heads on the wall of his office thanks to the nearby taxidermist, and finalized Beast's look based on many different animals, including the head of a buffalo.  When he started to draw for us, he said that he really couldn't take much credit, because Disney has Magic Pencils, and that's how he draws.  Then he started to draw, and realized that he had the wrong pencil in his hand because...oops!  It's Ariel!  I went kinda crazy. 

Glen Keane

It's like he knew it was my birthday week!

Drawing Beast's tooth
Transformation sequence

  • O'Hara is now painting, and will be showing her work in the new gallery that will be opening in Caesar's Palace in Vegas.
  • Deja lamented that he could not get an Artist's Discount at a Paris museum because the woman laughed at him when he showed his Disney ID to her.
    The Animators 
  • Keane told a wonderful story about a day at Disneyland when he forgot his Silver Pass.  He was in a long line with his family and they were not impressed with him when he tried to get to the front of the line by telling a CM that he was the animator for Beast.  The CM said, "I don't care who you are, you need to stand in line."  Later that day, he sat down on a bench, dejected about the bummer of day.  When what character of all characters should come walking down the street but Beast himself!  Beast took one look at Keane and sat down next to him, mimicking his body language, arms crossed in front of him.  Keane felt that this moment was truly surreal.  Then a little girl spotted Beast, ran to him, shouting, "BEAST!!!!" and jumped up on Beast's lap and hugged him.  And that joy is what brought Keane out of his funk that day.  Something that he created brought happiness to a little girl, who, instead of being afraid, found someone to love in Beast, as did Belle. (And I'm crying again).
  • We received a fabric rose as we left.  A lady told me later that evening that if I leave it out in the sun, it would bloom. Well, OK then.
I had a wonderful time!  Thank you for my birthday gift!  

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