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  • Writer's pictureLizzy Shannon

Beauty and the Beast

Tonight I unearthed the PAL VHS of the Beauty and the Beast show I was in, in London way back when. This is not the slick, professional Disney version, which I saw in Portland last weekend. This version was written for the Prince of Wales in Victorian times, in the manner of Shakespeare, in length and choice of song as well as in rhyming couplets. The Disney version is charming and I loved it... delightfully dark, but also engaging and amusing for all ages. My London version was considered 'art' at the time. Thus meaning that no child could possibly enjoy it; they'd have been perplexed and screaming with boredom in twenty minutes.

If anyone has read my newest novel, Time Twist, you'll recognize this theme. That Beauty and the Beast at the time was the toast of London Fringe... the London equivalent of Off Broadway. I knew, however, that I did not have what it took to break into the London West End, or anything other than small productions on the fringe. To begin with I was Northern Irish, which in 1980's London, was simply not a good place to be from. Also, I was a robust natural redhead - a ginger minger! Back then willowy English blondes were considered the ultimate beauty and Celtic freckles were ugly blemishes to be covered up or bleached off. And no matter how hard I tried, I could not shake the lilt of Ireland from my accent. But most of all, I could never let myself go enough to lose myself completely in the part. And I believe that’s the most necessary thing of all in being a successful actress.

Looking back, I had some very happy times in London. In fact, some of the most ecstatic moments in my life. But they were balanced with the angst that goes with being a professional performer. I sometimes toy with the idea of dipping into theater again, but probably won’t, unless as a writer or director. :-)

Happy 2010, everyone. A new year and a new beginning for us all.

Here's a very short video excerpt of me singing as the Queen of Roses… (the sorceress responsible for turning the prince into a beast in the first place.) In the background you can see him as the prince once more. Unfortunately, his ice cream cone headgear made for much mirth amongst the cast at the time.


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