New Gorgeous Disney Belle Breaks All Standards

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new belle olney theatre maryland

Credit Left: Disney Credit Right: Teresa Castracane Photography

The most gorgeous girl in town is breaking some expected standards. The presentation of Belle in a Maryland theater production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a contemporary marvel as the newest classic Disney princess.

New Gorgeous Disney Belle Breaks All Standards

belle breaks beauty standards olney theatre belle black
Jade Jones stars as “Belle” in a production of “Beauty and the Beast” at the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland. Credit: Teresa Castracane Photography

Everyone thinks of Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991) as a petite, thin, white woman with a yellow (or perhaps blue) dress. We often reference actresses like Emma Watson from the recent live-action film version of Beauty and the Beast (2017).

But in the production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast currently running at the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland, Belle is played by Jade Jones, a self-described queer, plus-sized Black woman.” MSNBC recently posted a story having picked up on the viral sensation in Olney, Maryland, and it’s been making humongous waves.

Many theatergoers may know when a theater secures the rights to produce a show, it cannot be altered… but the production’s Tony Award-nominated director, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, got creative with the Disney classic and “mined the script with a contemporary lens, even though we’re telling it in fairy tale language. So we’re telling a modern story. And it all emanates from Belle.” It makes this particular show throw a whopper of a curveball, pleasing not only audiences at large, but those little girls needing representation.

jade_jones_headshot new belle black
Credit: DJ Corey Photography

After the cast sang the opening song about “the most beautiful girl in town,” Jade Jones, stepped on stage as our lead heroine. This Belle, much like the actress portraying her, is smart, funny, witty, and passionate. Jones has made the animated beauty, Belle, much more of a heroic character, going forward with the designer’s costumes for Belle like a harem-pant-version of the classic blue peasant dress and deep red Doc Martens.

Little Black girls in the audience screamed out, ‘Is that Belle?’” Dodge recounted. “And it’s not just a Black Belle who fits into the size 2 replica dress, but a plus-size Belle. So [all] little girls can dream big about them being princesses, too.”

olney theatre new belle
Credit: Teresa Castracane Photography c/o MSNBC

This “risk” of presenting Disney’s Beauty and the Beast so differently has really paid off for the theater. Responses from all over the world have been supportive, calling the production revolutionary and celebrating the beautiful black Belle.

Joshua Ford, the director of communications and marketing for the Olney Theatre, said that the theater has been “overwhelmed by the response and how strongly the production has resonated with our audience and beyond.” The theater has been running a #IamBeauty social media campaign to encourage audiences to share what makes them feel beautiful; Jones gained 1,000 new Instagram followers in four days.

“I never imagined I would play a Disney princess in my entire life,” Jones said. “I mean, there were never any Disney princesses who looked like me…. It’s just a dream to do a show like this that I never thought I would be cast in. I’m living my musical theater dreams.”

Jodie Benson defends Halle Bailey
Credit: MovieWeb

This new representation of Belle goes along with the fresh-faced casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in the upcoming The Little Mermaid (2022) for Disney+. Bringing a wider representation to characters we already know and love only expounds upon Disney’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. We’re excited to see what other new castings follow these groundbreaking roles.

If you’re wanting to see the Olney Theatre’s version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, it runs through January 2022.

Do you love this new casting of Belle? Leave us a comment below!

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