Broadway gets its newest Beauty tonight, June 30, when Kim Huber takes over the role of Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. She replaces Deborah Gibson, who left after June 28. If Huber's name rings a belle -- er, bell, it's because she was the understudy to the original Belle, Susan Egan, and comes to the show from the Beauty and the Beast touring company. Chuck Wagner co-stars as the Beast.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast started its fourth year on Broadway, Apr. 18. Now the show is already gearing up for another landmark anniversary: On July 7, the musical will give its 1,762nd performance -- making it the longest-running show ever at New York's legendary Palace Theatre.
The Palace started as a vaudeville house, B.F. Keith's Palace, and "playing the Palace" was synonymous with achieving the pinnacle of vaudeville fame. The Palace was renovated as a legit theatre in 1966, reopening with the original Sweet Charity. Other shows at the Palace have included The Will Rogers Follies (963 performances) and previous champ, La Cage Aux Folles (1,761 performances by its Nov. 14, 1987 close).
Gary Beach, who played Dorothy Loudon's philandering hubby in City Center's "Encores!" edition of Sweet Adeline, returned to Broadway Mar. 12, 1997 in the Tony-nominated role he originated on stage -- Lumiere, the Chevalieresque candelabrum. Other cast members in Beauty And The Beast (as of Apr. 15) include Harrison Beal (LeFou), Tim Jerome (Maurice), Gibby Brand (Cogsworth), Steve Blanchard (Gaston), and Beth Fowler (Mrs. Potts). For tickets and information on Beauty and the Beast, which opened Apr. 18, 1994 at the Palace Theatre, call (212) 307-4747.