Though Beauty and the Beast opened in 1994, it wasn’t until 1998 when Toni Braxton took on the role of Belle that the Alan Menken/Tim Rice tune “A Change in Me” debuted and was on the fast-track to sixteen-bar celebrity as every ingénue’s audition piece.
Okay, to even suggest the song was needed is suspect. In fact, when the second national tour came around bearing “A Change in Me,” its inclusion dragged the second act wheras it had been satisfying before. It felt superfluous within one line of its lyrics being belted. Yet, it’s still one of the best songs to come out of Broadway in the past decade because of its melody and lyrics.
“A Change in Me” fits beautifully in the grand tradition of Disney songs, a tradition which now extends to Broadway. Rice’s lyrics for the song are some of the best in the whole show, his lyrics flowing from one idea to the next without obvious dependence on rhyme. It bears a simple concept, one perfectly fitting Belle’s experience—the idea that her experience has changed her where it counts. She no longer has a problem with her “poor, provincial town” because she is no longer dependant on it for her satisfaction. She has found the value of her life within herself.
Best of all, those simple, memorable lyrics are perfectly suited with Alan Menken’s catchy melody. I can’t be the only who finds himself hearing this song pleasantly running through his brain.
If you’re a fan of the song, you must get Susan Egan’s solo album So Far, in which she recorded “A Change in Me.” Egan was the original Belle on Broadway—the Belle preserved on recording—and it’s only fitting that her rendition is saved and in every fan’s collection.
the Broadway Mouth
August 6, 2008