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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Q&A: What makes Broadway’s Cogsworth tick

Cogsworth Q&A

The traveling Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast” will stop by Rudder Auditorium for performances Tuesday and Wednesday night. Samuel Shurtleff, who plays the character Cogsworth, the animated clock, spoke with The Battalion Life & Arts writer Sidney Johnson about his role in the classic tale.

THE BATTALION: How do you relate to your character?

SHURTLEFF: I have always loved the character of Cogsworth — I just knew it was right for me, and when it happened, it was a dream come true. I used to be a lot like the character of Cogsworth in the sense that I was pretty up tight and pretty worried about what was going on around me, following the rules and making sure that people were doing what they were supposed to do. I think I’ve mellowed out a bit, and I’m not like that anymore. I’m much more relaxed now, but I completely relate to the feeling he has of things are out of control and people need to do what they are supposed to do. At least from my past, I have a strong connection to him.

THE BATTALION: What is it like playing a character that was originally animated?

SHURTLEFF: It is a challenge. Because those characters are so beloved and so well-known, the challenge is not to imitate. As an actor you never just want to do someone else’s thing, but at the same time you want to emulate the wonderful performances by those other actors who have portrayed Cogsworth. So you don’t want to leave it behind and do something radical but you do want to bring something to the character that is you. I want my portrayal of Cogsworth to be in some ways different from other portrayals, but it has to at least remind the people watching it of the same character in the movie. I enjoy that challenge very much.

THE BATTALION: What is it like wearing a costume that is meant to look like an inanimate object?

SHURTLEFF: In the play, it’s a little bit different from the movie in the sense that we are trying to show that these characters are people who are being turned in the objects. For example, there is one scene where Cogsworth suddenly has a winding key in his back and it’s terrifying because that means the spell is still moving forward. With that in mind, the movements are a little more fluid because I am portraying a human that is turning into a clock. The other thing that helps is the costume; it is very clear when you see the costume that he is becoming a clock. I have a large boxy-looking thing on my body and my pants are very squared off and look almost wooden. There is a headpiece that looks like the top of a clock. It actually has numbers on it and my glasses have the hands of a clock on them. The costume itself is very indicative of a clock and that helps to present that picture. None of the costume is actual wood, thankfully, but from the audience perspective it does look like actual clock material and that I am becoming a solid piece of furniture.

THE BATTALION: What message does “Beauty and The Beast” give to its audience?

SHURTLEFF: It makes me so happy to be a part of this show; it’s a bonus when the message of the show is so positive and so strong and so needed in the world we live into today. This show is about how important it is to see the real person inside. Our exteriors is what we see first, but they are no true reflection of who we are genuinely as a human being. All the characters in the show, from The Beast to Gaston and Belle, are all much more than what you see on the outside. As the play progresses, you see that Beast is much more than he appears and Belle is too; it’s not just about one character. I’m not just a clock and Lumiere is not just a candle stick. True humanity is from the inside out — seeing someone’s heart and the true value of a human being.

THE BATTALION: How do you think the story changes as it is portrayed in animated film, Broadway play and live action movie?

SHURTLEFF: I am very anxious to see the live-action movie; I expect it to be a great progression in the story. I have no idea what they are going to do with the live action, but I would assume that the theme is going to remain the same, and they are going to do some new things with it. The play on stage is different from the movie in some ways. It’s very much the same in some ways;it has all the songs that you remember from the movie, but the play has some new songs added that were written specifically for the stage version. So there is a change from the movie to the stage not just that there are real people.

THE BATTALION: Do you remember the first time you saw the movie and what your reaction was?

SHURTLEFF: I watched it with my daughters. They loved it, and I loved it of course. Immediately, my favorite character was Cogsworth from the very beginning. My kids loved him too and they would say to me that someday I needed to play Cogsworth. It’s kind of funny because that was a conversation we would have way back when, and it came true. The movie was a family favorite, and we would watch it over and over again.

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