With Alan Menken at the piano
Beauty and the Beast returned to Lincoln Center for a special screening on Sunday night, 25 years after the Film Society of Lincoln Center first showed the film as an unfinished work at the New York Film Festival, and it ended with an enchanting pair of surprise performances.
The anniversary celebration brought out members of the original voice cast — Paige O’Hara (Belle), Robby Benson (Beast), Richard White (Gaston), and Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts), plus producer Don Hahn — for an extended introduction to the film. After the credits rolled, a piano was brought onto the Alice Tully Hall stage and legendary composer Alan Menken performed a medley of his most famous Disney tunes, including ones from Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Hercules, the live-action musical Enchanted, and, of course, Beauty and the Beast.
Lansbury then joined him on stage and, with Menken accompanying her on piano, sang the film’s iconic title song. (Ever the perfect Mrs. Potts, she even threw in a “Run along and get in the cupboard, Chip” at the end.)
Before the Beauty and the Beast screening, the original cast reflected on the film and its legacy during that on-stage Q&A. O’Hara told a story about how Lansbury came to New York to record after being up all night traveling, and still went in and sang the title song in one take. “And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” O’Hara noted.
“When I think of the history of this film, and the young children who fell in love with it as little toddlers and grew up and still continue to watch it and tell me about it — it’s so interesting, they will tell me about scenes in the film as if I hadn’t been anywhere near it,” Lansbury laughed.
You can watch Lansbury’s performance and parts of Menken’s medley in the videos above.