If it’s not specifically a black story—if it’s not Ragtime or Porgy and Bess or Show Boat—and “clearly, this is a black woman,” then historically, they just don’t cast us. I would have just assumed they weren’t looking for me to tell that story. But ingenues like Natasha came very easily to me…. And so with Natasha I fell in love with her. And I was scared to want it, because I was scared to be let down. —Denée Benton
“It made me realize that vulnerability, and that sort of uneasy feeling of being scared or uncertain, is not necessarily a bad feeling. That maybe when you’re opening yourself up to something else, to discovering something new, or to a different person, [you are] ultimately changing and being better for it.”
Over the course of its 13-year run on Broadway, over 20 actors performed the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. But what roles had they taken on before the headstrong princess, and where are they now? Be our guest as Playbill looks back on eight of them.