A tale as old as time gets a modern telling

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It is a tale as old as time, passed down from generation to generation. It is a tale of love and passion, wonder and magic. It is a tale about a Beauty and her Beast.

This delightfully gothic romance has been captivating audiences for centuries and has now been brought to grand life by the talented cast and crew of the Grossmont College Stagehouse Theatre as part of their 2018 Summer Conservatory program. 

Adapted by Jeanette Thomas and directed by Allison Spratt Pearce and Mitzi Smith, this musical take on the classic fable is a bit different than past iterations.

It is a tale as old as time, passed down from generation to generation. It is a tale of love and passion, wonder and magic. It is a tale about a Beauty and her Beast.

This delightfully gothic romance has been captivating audiences for centuries and has now been brought to grand life by the talented cast and crew of the Grossmont College Stagehouse Theatre as part of their 2018 Summer Conservatory program. 

Adapted by Jeanette Thomas and directed by Allison Spratt Pearce and Mitzi Smith, this musical take on the classic fable is a bit different than past iterations.

This version follows Calla Lily (Danica Waitley), an adventurous and bookish young woman who resides in an unnamed small town with her father (Jon Agee) and her two insufferably selfish sisters Violet (Ashley Carter) and Marigold (Kelsey Barker). The family has hit on hard times and Calla Liliy’s father goes on an expedition to try and earn more funds.

After he goes missing, Calla Liliy ventures out to find him and stumbles upon the decrepit castle of the reclusive and temperamental Beast (James Allen), who takes her as his prisoner.

Despite a thorny start, the two begin to develop feelings for each other and an unlikely romance starts to bloom.

Perhaps the first thing that one notices once the musical begins is that instead of using original compositions, the music consists of a medley of well-known popular songs, a la “Moulin Rouge!”

While it is at first admittedly jarring, the song choices fit the subject matter well and serve to further enhance the scenes. Particular standout numbers include the comedic “Sharp Dressed Medley,” which sees the Beast being groomed for a date with Calla Liliy by his servants to the tune of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” and Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible,” the sassy take on Madonna’s “Material Girl,” sung by the bratty sisters, and the beautifully show-stopping ballroom dance between the Beast and Calla Liliy set to Lifehouse’s “You and Me.”

As is usual with Stagehouse Theatre productions, the acting in “Beauty and the Beast” is stellar. As the two titular characters, Allen and Waitley have great chemistry and play well off each other. Allen balances the Beast’s ferocious temper and gentle moments well, and Waitley’s singing, especially on “Where the Streets Have No Name,” is impressive.

Other standouts include the talented ensemble who play the Beast’s servants, cursed into becoming household items. A particular standout is the lovely Mika Fogacci who plays the dimwitted chandelier Crystal. She is as agile as a ballerina on her feet during the dance numbers and lands her lines with a deft comedic precision. Another standout is Zoee Bauer who plays Syrah, the feather duster. She is perfectly cast and shows promise not only in her acting ability, but also in her singing skills as well. Stagehouse would be wise in hiring her for more productions.

The rest of the cast is great as well, with Kyler Waitley, who plays the dour coat of arms, Rothschild, giving a wonderfully deadpan performance, the soulful Sha’nyeyah White as Pepper the cook, who happens to be a cake, and Cole Atencio who gives a respectable performance as Rusty the shovel, though he does tend to ham on the faux French accent a bit. 

Last, but certainly not least, is Lizzie Cisneros as the matronly Mrs. Peal, a bell, who gives a steadfast performance and serves as the glue that brings the whole servant cast together.

Praise must also be given to the production’s lavish backgrounds made by Scenic Designer Michael McKeon and his crew. McKeon’s sets are always gorgeous to look at and help to transport the audience to another place and time, and for that he should be commended.

“Beauty and the Beast” is a colorful and magical time and it is Grossmont College’s Stagehouse Theatre at their best. One would be wise not to miss this one.

Further performances are on August 2 and 3 at 7:30 pm, and August 1, 2, and 4 at 2:00 pm.

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