Well, apparently, that was not the original vision from the composers Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, either. As I heard them say in an interview once, they said that at the time (1991) that Animation was the last best place to write Musical Theater. In fact, they wrote "stage musicals for film." As a team, Menken and Ashman were based on Broadway. Yet they were tapped by Disney to write for the animated movies. But still, their concepts and ideas were firmly rooted in stage theatricals. A cardinal rule for stage musicals is to give the main character a solo song at a point in the first act where the audience gets to hear the character's thoughts and emotions. This allows the audience a chance to learn to care for that character. And that was exactly what was missing in the movie! But animated Disney films had to stick to a finite, short length, so no solo song for Belle.
Gladly, the stage show was later produced on Broadway and opened with more songs that explored the characters in depth and explained a lot of things. All in all, it is a much more satisfying bit of storytelling. The expanded version of "Beauty and the Beast" has solo songs for Belle, Beast and Gaston that give motivation and development to those characters. And the servant's song "Human Again" explains a lot about the enchanted knick-knack characters that is never explained in the movie version. Much, much improved storytelling!
I recently saw Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" performed in theater-in-the-round. This was done in an extremely tiny theater with a very small cast, but oh, how imaginatively produced. It was exceptional! So colorful and delightful! I was worried that I would miss the lavishness of seeing a full Broadway show done on a large stage with that special Disney "magic." Well, I am happy to say that the show is so well-written, that I did not miss the hugeness of other productions. This show was done in an intimate style and relied on the few actor's superb characterizations and wonderful use of imaginative costuming instead of large sets, pyrotechnics and overwhelming numbers of cast members. All in all, it was back to basics, but great use of those essentials. I loved that show! The stage production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" (in most any production) is by far a more satisfying experience in storytelling than the animated movie.