Theater Preview: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (5-Star Theatricals in Thousand Oaks)

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by Jim Allen on July 19, 2018

in Theater-Los Angeles

SHE’S STILL A BEAUTY

It is sheer luck that I’ve been able to see Broadway Baby Susan Egan in over 10 shows since the mid-1980s. From intimate stages (Babes at the Matrix; Hello, Again at the Blank) to national tours (Bye Bye Birdie as Kim) to Broadway (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Triumph of Love), she has always glowed with professionalism and true star quality. And naturally she can belt a song while dancing up a storm and acting the heck out of it (her Eliza in My Fair Lady was stunningly good). Any chance to see her is highly recommended.

Here’s your chance, L.A: 5-Star Theatricals (formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre) is presenting Broadway’s original “Belle” in Beauty and the Beast. Egan will reprise her iconic, Tony-nominated performance once again (for one last time!) beginning tomorrow Friday, July 20, 2018 and running through Sunday, July 29 at the 1,800-seat Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks. This gigantic production not only has the best actors in the Biz, but also has 33 ensemble members to back them up!

The story, as every youngster with a DVD player must know by heart, Beauty and the Beast tells about a spoiled, selfish young prince (Jason Chacon) who was changed into a hideous beast by a witch. He can only be restored to his princely appearance by the love of a good woman. And that woman is Belle (Egan), the oddball of her village because she enjoys reading, has an independent mind, and resists the advances of the village hunk, a bombastic lout named Gaston (Adam Hollick), who’s hardly aided by his sidekick Lefou (Justin Charles Cowden).

In Disney’s animated movie version, the inhabitants of the Beast’s castle were transformed into objects as part of the witch’s curse; here, they are designed as humans transforming into objects, which makes much more sense in a staged production. Included in the bric-a-brac are the candelabra Lumiere (Marc Baron Ginsburg), the mantle-clock Cogsworth (Gregory North), the teapot Mrs. Potts (Tracy Ray Reynolds), and an opera singer-turned-vanity Madame de la Grande Bouche (Nandani Sinha); all of the objects conspire to help the Beast win over Belle — if he does not, they will lose their humanity forever.

It is a testament to great storytelling that the stage version remains emotionally resonant — storytelling that is courtesy of the book by Linda Woolverton, and ideas by the late, great lyricist Howard Ashman. Alan Menken’s music remains thrilling, and there are new numbers incorporated into this score with lyrics by Tim Rice. Beauty and the Beast reminds us to keep the art of storytelling alive; it manages to teach us powerful morals, all the while tugging at our heartstrings.

photos by Ed Krieger

Beauty and the Beat
5-Star Theatricals (formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre)
Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
July 20-29, 2018
for tickets, call 800-745-3000 (Ticketmaster), 805-449-2787 or visit 5-Star

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