Jillian Butterfield has realized her childhood dreams in portraying the lovely Belle in Disney’s Beauty & the Beast touring show.
“It was always my dream, ever since I was little, to be Belle,” Butterfield told the Herald in a phone interview. “She was my favorite character growing up. So I guess dreams do come true.”
Butterfield, 25, also is making her touring debut as the kind-hearted Belle who falls in love with a prince who is transformed into a hideous beast as punishment for his cruel and selfish ways. He imprisons Belle in his castle but before long, he wins her heart.
This San Diego native was an ice skater long before the theater grabbed her attention.
“I started ice skating when I was about 5 years old,” she said. “But an injury while I was in middle school sidelined me for while.”
Out of boredom during her convalescence, she tried out for a school play, seized a key role and found out she loved acting, perhaps even more than skating.
“I was always singing songs from Disney movies, so my mom had me take voice lessons, but I never really took singing seriously,” she said.
For a while, she tried to give theater and ice skating equal time but in the end one had to go.
“I had to get up a 4 a.m. every day to get skating time, then school, then theater,” she said. “It just got to be too much doing both, and I discovered I really loved theater more, so I quit skating.”
Before tackling the lead role with a touring company, Butterfield spread her acting wings on the Disney fantasy cruise ship’s production of Wishes.
Her co-stars in Beauty & the Beast are Ryan Everett Wood as the Beast, with Cameron Bond as Gaston, Jake Bridges as Lefou, Emily Jewell as Mrs. Potts, Kelly Teal Goyette as Madame de la Grande Bouche, Thomas Mothershed as Maurice and Melissa Jones as Babette.
The stage version featured seven new songs, all of which are included in the touring show.
Butterfield promises the stage version will be as enchanting as the animated film.
“The show is full of comedy and laughter that the kids will love as much as the adults,” she said. “And Belle has such charm and character, which is why I wanted to be her. I strive to be her still.”
Tickets to Beauty & the Beast cost from $37 to $77 and are available at the Toyota Center box office or by calling 509-737-3722.