Beauty and the Beast is one of the classiest shows on Broadway" proclaimed Deborah Gibson Sept. 18, just after finishing an open rehearsal of the show's opening number, "Belle," which will be all hers when she assumes the lead in the musical Sept. 24. "It's full of magic and illusions which make it a great show". The cast has been rehearsing with the new Belle -- "her name means beauty," as the villagers sing -- for just about two weeks. Sept. 19 was the first time Gibson had rehearsed the number onstage with the cast.
Director Robert Jess Roth, who received a Tony nomination for his work on Beauty, announced that the opening of the London company brought about some new changes that they are putting into Broadway production. "You keep a show fresh by doing new things like we're doing here. New choreography was added in the London production that our cast has been working on." Audiences will be able to see these new changes when Gibson steps into the role Sept. 24.
Gibson said her Belle will be "spunky and gutsy." She said she can relate to the character because her interpretation of Belle is a girl who wants more than her "provincial life." She goes around knowing that there is more to life than what she has, and Gibson says she felt these same emotions growing up. She uses the terms "simpler," "pure," and "dreamy" to describe the character that she wants to convey.
Gibson is best known for her work in the pop music industry with such hits like "Electric Youth", "Lost In Your Eyes", "Out of the Blue", and "Shake Your Love". Not only did she record five hit LPs, and a sixth LP that's just been released, "Deborah," but she is no stranger to the Broadway stage. Gibson was last seen in Les Miserables on Broadway playing the role of Eponine. Prior to that she played Rizzo in the US National Tour of Grease and Sandy in the hit West End production.
Gibson, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., but has been living in New York City for the past five years, has sung in concerts since childhood. "I'm a belter at heart and that was one of the challenges of preparing for the role of Belle. . . In concert I get this adrenaline rush because I am up there telling a story, but on Broadway I have to be more controlled and focused, but still emotional." Singing on Broadway holds a special meaning for Gibson because her family used to take trips into Manhattan to see a show every year and returning there reminds her of those moments.
Although Gibson has been busy rehearsing for Beauty and promoting her album, she still finds time to work on Skirts, a musical she has been writing for the past three years. Currently there are an estimated 35 songs already written, 15 of which Gibson completed on her own. A spokesperson for the actress/singer says that it is a "work in progress" and plans to bring the show to Broadway are still being discussed.
Until then, audiences can catch Deborah on Broadway in Beauty and the Beast for a scheduled eight-month run. The show plays Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM with a matinee on Wed. and Saturday at 2 PM and two Sunday performances at 1 PM and 6:30 PM. Tickets are available by calling Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100.