Beauty and the Beast Brings Magic to Philadelphia

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(PCM) When stage actor Kevin Kulp isn’t singing or dancing his heart out in the enchanting touring production of “Beauty and the Beast,” he finds other outlets for his creativity.

At age 24, the Morristown, N.J. native is thrilled to be coming back home for the Philadelphia return of the smash hit Broadway musical from February 16-21, as part of the Broadway Philadelphia 2015-2016 season.

The current touring show, which is produced by NETworks Presentations, reunites the creators of the original Broadway production, and promises the same magical experience.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Based on the 1991 Oscar-winning animated film and celebrating 21 years since its Broadway premiere in 1994, “Beauty and the Beast” is the 9th longest running musical in Broadway history. It has become an international sensation seen by more than 35 million people worldwide in 22 countries, and translated into nine different languages. This production began in February 2010 and has been seen by nearly three million people.

“It’s always a special treat when we’re able to invite families and theater loves to come to the relive a classic like Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” said Kimmel Center President and CEO Anne Ewers. “This treasured story, now brought back to life by the Broadway production’s original creators, is sure to be a must-see for fans of all ages.”

Kulp plays a townsperson and enchanted object. His credits include: “Anything Goes”  at The Marriott Theatre, “Miss Saigon”  at the Walnut Street Theatre and Signature Theatre, “A Chorus Line” (Paul), and “The King and I” at the Walnut Street Theatre and Olney Theatre.

Q: When did you join the current tour of “Beauty and the Beast?”

KEVIN KULP: I joined the tour in August. We had three weeks of rehearsal in New York City and we left for the road in September and I am contracted to be with the show until the end of July. It was a long audition process, with lots of call backs. I was there tumbling, singing and acting. We are in Daytona Beach, Florida today and soon head to Philly – my back yard.

Q: Where did you grow up?

KK: Morristown, N.J. Right outside of Philly.

Q: When did you first get the acting bug?

KK: It started when I was little. I sang with the Philadelphia Boys Choir with four years and traveled with them, and we sang a lot of songs from musicals. I was also in The Nutcracker every year at the Academy of Music where “Beauty and the Beast” will be performed so that is thrilling. I loved performing every day and I guess you could say it started from there.

Q: You have tons of local connections?

KK: Yes. I graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, and was in a few shows at the Walnut Street Theater.

Q: Coming home must be exciting. Who is coming to see the show?

KK: I have had lots of friends from Florida, Portland, and L.A. seeing the show at various venues. Now my hometown friends and my family will be coming to Philly, so that is really special to me to be able to share it with them.

Q: Are there any other performers in your family?

KK: No, I am the only one.

Q: Have your parent been supportive or concerned about a show business career?

KK: My parents have been encouraging; they have been truly amazing. They have been my number one supporters since I was little. They have always driven me to auditions and helped in any way that they could.

Q: What do you love about this show?

KK: I love performing in front of an audience every night, and “Beauty and the Beast” is such a fun show it is hard to love it. When you see young children, families and several generations all sharing this, it is really gratifying to see that such a loved musical that everyone has some connection to.

Q: What are some of your of your other favorite Broadway musicals?

KK: I love the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musicals — shows like “Carousel” and “Sound of Music.” I also have a friend from college who is in the current 50th anniversary production of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway.

Q: Are there surprises being part of a tour like this?

KK: Yes, the traveling. You don’t realize what it’s going to be like constantly being on the go – packing and unpacking and checking into the different hotels. We don’t have any breaks so we can always moving and exploring the cities during the day and performing at night. It is great; but so much more involved than I thought. I didn’t realize the entirety of touring before I did it.

Q: How do you relax when on tour?

KK: A lot of times we will just go out and explore. A lot of the dancers get massages since we are constantly on our feet. The temperature is going up to the high 70s today in Daytona, so many of us will head to the beach.

Q: What else do you do to chill out on the road?

KK: I really like music. I have made a lot of play lists on the road and get the chance to listen to full albums during our travel days. Music is one of my main relaxation outlets. I also really like photography, so I do a lot of photo blogging on Instagram. [Please follow him on Instagram @Kulpy].

Q: Being on the road – what do you miss the most?

KK: My family and friends. And little things – like having a kitchen and being able to cook. Being constantly on the move and being in hotels you don’t get to cook. But sometimes we share an apartment and we can cook.

Q: What is the initial dream versus the reality of your career?

KK: Five years ago the dream would be to tour and travel – exactly what I am doing now. You don’t really don’t know what tour life is like until you do it. Going places on a bus. Living out of a suitcase and performing eight shows a week. It is not a normal life. We perform throughout Christmas and the New Year’s season. We don’t get weekends or holidays off. So I am living the dream – but the reality is that it is also a job and hard work, albeit work that I truly love.

Q: Were you familiar with “Beauty and the Beast” before this tour?

KK: My childhood friend played Chip on Broadway when he was younger and we went to see it together after he retired. So, I have a long history with the show. And we have the same creative team that mounted the show in the ‘90s. so it was really great to be working with the same artistic team that presented it then.

Q: I hear you become good friends with those on tour. Are you pals with your roommate?

KK: Yes. I have an amazing roommate and he is one of my closest friends now. I know that we will remain friends after the tour. We will be sharing an apartment in downtown Toronto when we get there and can escape the hotel living and cook some nice meals. I look forward to that.

Q: Do you have any advice to young people who want to follow in your footsteps in pursing musical theater, theater or an entertainment career?

KK: Yes. I would advise someone to really think if this is what your passion is and if you want to make this your career, because you may get 100 rejections before you get a part or an offer. Even after all that you can never get disappointed in yourself, you can’t let the last rejection affect the rest of your day. If this is what you love to do, you need to put yourself out there and something is bound to come out of the auditions and stick. I would also say, audition, audition, audition!

Tickets for Beauty and the Beast and other Philadelphia Broadway series shows may be purchased by calling (215) 893-1999, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. For group of 10 or more call (215) 790-5883.

For more tour information, visit www.beautyandthebeastontour.com.

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