The stage show changed considerably from the original version to the currently running version, causing it to more closely resemble 1991 film of the same name. However, because the show is condensed to approximately 25 minutes, many cuts and edits are made.
The show opens like the Broadway musical: An old beggar woman asks a spoiled and selfish prince if he will allow her to stay in his castle for the night from the bitter cold, in exchange for a single rose; to which the prince turns her away. Because his heart is cold, the old beggar woman turns into a beautiful enchantress who punishes the prince by transforming him in to an ugly, scary, and hideous Beast. Everyone in the castle gets a punishing transformation as well. The prince can only break the spell by learning to love another, and earning their love in return, and failure to do so will cause him to "remain a beast for all time".
Years later, Belle is walking in the quiet little French village where she lives. The other villagers agree that Belle is beautiful, but she is also no ordinary character. Gaston, the handsome young hunter of the town, boasts how he loves Belle and asks her to marry him.("Belle" / "Gaston"). Belle politely refuses. Soon though, "under a series of mysterious circumstances", Belle finds herself inside the Beast's enchanted castle. She is confronted by the magical castle inhabitants, Cogsworth the clock, Lumiere the candelabra, Mrs. Potts the teapot, and her son, Chip the teacup. Cogsworth thinks that they made a mistake by allowing Belle inside, but the others believe she could be the one to break the curse. So they throw her a feast and, simultaneously invite her to "Be Our Guest". The Beast abruptly ends the celebration and expresses his fear that Belle could never learn to love him. Belle, on a tour through the castle, enters the West Wing and discovers the rose. The Beast is furious at Belle, because he told her never to enter that part of the castle. All of this causes Belle and the Beast to argue. But the others advise Beast to be a gentleman, because Belle could be the one to break the curse. The castle's charming inhabitants discover that there is "Something There" that wasn't there before ("Something There"), and the two fall in love.
Meanwhile, Gaston declares that Belle has rejected him for the last time. He convinces the villagers that the Beast is a monster, and the village is not safe until he is dead. So they decide to kill him ("The Mob Song"). The townspeople take over the castle, ruining everything in sight. Gaston fights the Beast, and Belle appears just to see Gaston make his final blow. Seeing the Beast nearly dead, Belle admits she loves him just as the rose's last petal falls. This breaks the curse, and the Beast is magically transformed back into the Prince. The entire cast returns for a final dance, and declare that the love of "Beauty and the Beast" will thrive forever. Instantly, Belle and the prince reappear in their traditional costumes. ("Beauty and the Beast")
During the curtain call, Belle and the Prince give a lucky person in the audience a rose similar to the one in the movie.
Original version (1991–2001)
The original version opened for the film's 1991 premiere. Its first performance was at 1:30 pm on November 22, 1991, the same day the film was released. When the Theater of the Stars was moved in September 1993 (to make room for the construction of Sunset Boulevard), the show was temporarily moved to the Backlot Theater on New York Street. The show reopened in July 1994, in the now covered and newly rebuilt Theater of the Stars on Sunset Blvd.
The second version of the show debuted in March 2001 and now features the songs much nearer to the order in which they are presented in the film. It is currently the longest-running stage show at a Walt Disney World Theme Park.
The show's exit music after the final curtain is dropped features the pop version of title song performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson
A similarly titled show with a different script, sets, and costumes opened at Disneyland on April 12, 1992. The show was extremely popular, appearing over 4,300 times in just over three years, and served as a development platform for an adaptation of the film which ran on Broadway from April 18, 1994 – July 29, 2007. Stephanie J Block (later a 2013 Tony Award nominee) was the original Belle. The show played its final performance on April 30, 1995. The show played at the Fantasyland Theatre.
Disneyland Paris version
A similar show sharing the Florida production's script, sets, and costumes appeared for several seasons at the Disneyland Paris park with a recorded vocal track (in French). The show played from 1992 through late 1996 at the Videopolis Theater.