Here’s another “crazy concept” for Beauty and the Beast – one that perhaps is not not necessarily ‘crazy’, but just unconventional. This one is from Musicals Dot Net, posted by a user known as “Jake”:
Do you guys think it’s less effective to have a different actor play the Beast and the Prince? I think if at all possible, the same guys needs to play the Prince and the Beast. What do you guys think?
I would say one might run into trouble unless a perfect match in terms of physicality and particularly voice was found. The audience would still have to believe that the Prince was the Beast and since the appearance is so different, the only way to get that is through the voice and through Belle’s reaction. (In the film, it’s wonderfully done using his eyes – a seed which was planted in a fantastic dramatic moment when Belle went into the West Wing. But that’s too subtle an effect to achieve on stage.) If a double has to be used, the place to do it would be in the final sequences is in the fight with Gaston, allowing the Prince to be played by the same actor as the Beast. I think that’s the most effective choice.
The other place where a double could/would be used is during the “Prologue” and there again, it would require a physical match between the Prince at the start and the Prince at the end.
So I agree with Jake on this one. The same actor should play both the Beast and the Prince.