Pursuing a career in the musical theater comes with its own share of unusual challenges, from learning difficult music to executing complex choreography. As a cast member in the national touring production of Disney's “Beauty and the Beast,” Hassan Nazari-Robati has also been required to employ a French accent and learn how to hold his arms in very awkward positions.
An Edmond native who graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2011, Nazari-Robati plays Lumiere, a gregarious candlestick who constantly has to deal with whether his flames are extinguished or burning bright.
“I do have candle hands that can get very tiring,” Nazari-Robati said.“When I first joined the tour in July 2012, I could feel my arms getting heavier and heavier during the show. Ultimately, you learn to just grin through it all. I also have difficulty dealing with door handles. I have to have people help me out sometimes.”
Based on the 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast,” the Tony Award-winning stage musical ran for more than 13 years on Broadway. The Networks Presentations touring production comes to Oklahoma City this week for six performances at the Civic Center Music Hall.
Shortly after moving to New York in September 2011, Nazari-Robati auditioned for “Beauty and the Beast.” He thought he might be well suited for the role of Lefou, Gaston's bumbling sidekick. To his surprise, the musical's creative team offered him the role of Lumiere instead.
Lumiere is the most accommodating of the castle's enchanted objects, a group which also includes a clock, a feather duster, a wardrobe, a teapot and a tea cup. It's also Lumiere who believes that Belle can finally break the spell that has left his companions in danger of becoming inanimate objects.
“Lumiere likes to think he's the guy in charge,” Nazari-Robati said. “He rescues Belle when she first comes to the castle. After seeing how she stands up to the Beast, he's convinced she's strong enough to warm his heart and make him see the error of his ways.
“He also hopes he can teach the Beast how to be a gentleman. Luckily, the Beast follows most of his instructions. Lumiere loves himself, but he remains focused on making other people happy. He wants everybody to feel welcome and pulls out all the stops to make sure that happens.”
Lumiere loves himself but he remains focused on making other people happy.”
An Edmond native who plays Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast”