While the prologue of Beauty and the Beast starts the show, the show doesn’t truly start until the opening number. Both Arabian Nights and Belle are long numbers- but at the same time effective. Why is Belle an effective opening number?
Possible minor Spoilers:
When it comes to Disney musicals, long opening numbers may not make sense. However, there are times where they actually are quite effective. The entire song makes you get to know the entire village Belle lives in. Belle actually opens the song up, and she is the protagonist of the musical. The song also introduces you to Gaston, the villain of the musical. So, in just one number, you know exactly who your protagonist and antagonist are. You get to know exactly what the village thinks of Belle, and you get to know important parts of Belle. Those are things such as that she is a bookworm, and that the town think that she is odd- that to me shows that she is unique. Just like Arabian Nights, you get to know the setting so well in just one number.
Yes, Beauty and the Beast is a romance between Belle and Beast, and that it mostly takes in the castle- but this opening number is crucial. When it comes to a romance- usually one of the characters is more prominent meaning they fit the profile of main character better. That is the case for Belle- the story truly kicks off when she takes her father’s place. So, Belle is truly is the main character of Beauty and the Beast.