‘Beauty and the Beast’ playing at Solvang Theater

Staff Report

Pacific Conservatory Theatre presents a tale as old as time, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” under the stars at the Solvang Festival Theater now through July 2.

Viewers can be swept away into the enchanted musical where Belle feels trapped in a provincial town and a prince is trapped in the body of a hideous beast.

If the beast can learn to love and be loved, the spell will be broken and he will be transformed to his former princely self. If not, he and his household will be doomed for all time.

The classical musical love story is a magical tale that comes to life with unforgettable characters, astonishing sets and costumes, and a stunning score including, “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston,” “Human Again,” and the Tony-winning title song, “Beauty and the Beast.”

“This story hopes for and believes things that I hope for and believe … that beauty is found within,” Director Mark Booher said. “That who you are inside is more important than your appearance.  It’s also a story that says redemption is possible, even when you’ve made a horrible mistake.

“I think this story is supposed to change us. To make us more likely to look at someone’s heart before their hairdo, to see if a smile is a mask for malevolence, to see if a roar is a danger sign or a lonely cry. And, it reminds us that it’s almost never too late to say ‘I love you.'”

The cast includes Acting Intern Annali Fuchs as Belle, along with Resident Artists Matt Koenig as Beast, George Walker as Gaston, Peter S. Hadres as Maurice, Michael Jenkinson as Cogsworth, Andrew Philpot as Lumiere, Erik Stein as Baker/Msr. D’Arque, Kitty Balay as Mrs. Potts, and Guest Artists Katie Wackowski and Bree Murphy as Babette and Wardrobe, respectively.

The creative team includes Choreographer Michael Jenkinson, Associate Choreographer Katie Wackowski, Music Director Brad Carroll, Scenic Designer Jason Bolen, Costume Designer Judith A. Ryerson, Lighting Designer Jennifer ‘Z’ Zornow, Sound Designer Elisabeth Weidner, Sound Engineer Andrew Mark Wilhelm, and Equity Production Stage Manager Ellen Beltramo.

The Disney animated feature film on which the play is based premiered in 1991 and won the Academy Award for Best Song and Best Original Score and made history for being the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture.

The Broadway production opened in 1994 and ran for 13 years and 5,461 performances, closing in 2007 to make way for a production of The Little Mermaid.