Broadway quality comes to the SCV
The Disney classic Beauty and the Beast is currently enjoying a successful run at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.
I had the pleasure of attending a Sunday matinee with my nearly four year old niece, for what was to be her first live theatre experience. Not only was I happy to find that she sat still throughout the entire play, but I was shocked to see her level of interest actually increase, as compared to her television shows.
Overall the play was well produced by the Canyon Theatre Guild, with exciting dance numbers, bright set pieces, and acting and singing of a superb quality.
As far as the characters go, Belle provided a refreshingly crisp performance with flawless vocals, and the Beast effortlessly ran through an intensely interesting character journey which took him from a cold hearted monster to a self loathing outcast with real human emotion, to a gentle, kind, and loving man, with an admirable sense of humor.
Gaston and Lefou provided a constant stream of laughs throughout the show, while the young ensemble cast nabbed a few of the sweetest “oh that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen” moments (most notably the two dancing sugar cubes).
And of course, with any good musical come good dance numbers. While the infamous “Be Our Guest” scene was fantastic, the standout scene was the “Tavern” where comical Gaston leads a parade of cup clinking singers and dancers. The timing and overall quality of the dance numbers made for a huge hit with the crowd, who followed each one with a thunderous round of applause.
I had my reservations about bringing my niece to the show, because she’s used to the animated, high tech children’s shows and DVDs that cater to today’s youth. However, in an unexpected turn of events, I found that the real “live” characters moving in front of her actually enhanced her experience. To her, this story was more real than any cartoon or TV show she could watch, and this was made evident by the many times she pulled my ear down to fill me in on the action.
And this sort of understanding on her behalf extended to the songs as well. When the Beast finished out Act 1 with the heart wrenching “If I Can’t Love Her” my niece scrambled up the chair and whispered to me “The beast is sad!”
At intermission, some of the ensemble cast members come to the lobby to sell fake roses that light up red with the click of a button for $5. Then in act two, when the Beast gives Belle a rose as they dance, every child lights up their rose and waves it in the air, sparking a glorious sort of red glow that fills the PAC.
So if it’s good quality family entertainment you’re looking for, it’s hard to beat Beauty and the Beast.
Tickets run $12-$26, which is close to that of a movie ticket these days. When you add the experience of a live theatre production and the interaction with the cast at intermission, the price is a bargain.
If it’s typical community theater you’re looking for, stay away! The Beauty and the Beast proved in a big way that local entertainment can exceed the expectations of both the hardened film buff like myself, and the antsy four year old.
The show will continue its run until August 19th, and tickets are still available for shows. To get more information on the play or to buy tickets, call (661) 799- 2702.