By Mindy Pedlar
Prepare to be enchanted by Cabrillo Stage’s Beauty and the Beast opening Friday, July 21 at the Cabrillo Crocker Theater. Adapted from Disney’s award winning 1991 animated film based on the famous French fairy tale, it’s a love story that transcends first impressions and appearance, reminding us to look past the exterior of a person and see into their heart.
At the helm of this production is Director/Choreographer Janie Scott. Her vision is to stay true to the fairytale aspect of the story, including the visual magic.
“From the very beginning it’s as if the audience sees the most beautiful book cover, thanks to Scenic Designer Skip Epperson, and when that book is opened a complete story with drama, humor, excitement and whimsy floods out to take the audience to a new place and time.”
“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere…” sings the beauty, Belle. While the town’s people describe Belle as “odd,” and she clearly does not fit in, she holds true to herself and her desires and aspirations. The world-renowned musical score really speaks to Emily Marsilia, the actress/singer portraying Belle. “It’s truly remarkable to play someone that had an impact and influence on the woman I have become.” Emily finds it rewarding to tell a story that shows the power of love and the importance of valuing good character.
Playing Belle’s father, Maurice, Richard Dwyer describes him as “A man who has two things he loves in this world, his daughter and his inventing.” All else is secondary, which is why he appears to be absentminded and a little disheveled. But thanks to Belle, he maintains a somewhat respectable appearance. If it weren’t for Belle he might even forget to eat, drink, or sleep. Because of all this, Maurice is actually quite a happy individual.
Like the character he portrays, Richard loves tinkering, “Lately with wood, but also with computers and most recently with clocks.” (Cogsworth beware!) He also has a daughter around Belle’s age who he describes as strong willed, stubborn, smart as a whip, and the apple of his eye. “The fondness I portray on stage towards Belle is something I am familiar with, and the fear for her safety and wellbeing are drawn from real life experiences.” He credits the talented Emily Marsilia, with making his job easy. “Ironically what I find challenging about being Maurice is also what helped me become him. Being a dad is serious business, and I’ve had to work to make Maurice a little more lighthearted than my instincts want me to be.”
With its large cast, many unusual costumes, wigs and makeup, an enormous, unique set with moving parts, not to mention the flying effects, producing this show is a challenge. The technical aspects alone are quite phenomenal. Knowing that this would be “a mammoth undertaking” Ms. Scott asked her longtime assistant, Zen Llado, to be her co-choreographer, which has proved to be a successful collaboration. She states that the most joyful aspect of directing and choreographing for Cabrillo Stage is working with people who love what they do; who adore every aspect of musical theatre.
Costume Designer Maria Crush wants you to know: “We love Theatre!” At age five her parents took her to a production of AIDA at the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts – and she was hooked. Maria has been designing costumes for Cabrillo Stage for nearly 30 years. With the director’s input, she begins her “grand artistic concept” as if she had a million dollar budget. It then becomes a process of adjusting that concept to fit the actual budget. “It’s important to make the actor feel comfortable and appropriately dressed for the character they are playing. We sweat over every costume piece – hats, shoes, jewelry – even buttons. We really care about the look of the show.”
This production is large in scope with many unusual costumes. From candlesticks to wolves, ball gowns, napkins and dinner plates, this show has it all. Some costumes are made in the Cabrillo costume shop; some are purchased and some are rented from other theaters. Maria admits it’s a lot of work, which is why, “You have to love it.”
Janie Scott and her remarkable cast and crew believe the audience will come away with everything that a theatrical experience can give them; savoring the unexpected moments of humor, magic and excitement and perhaps humming an award winning tune as they leave the theater.
Beauty and the Beast July 20 – August 13, Cabrillo Crocker Theater, 6500 Soquel Dr. Aptos. Evening performances begin at
7:30 p.m.; matinees at 2:00 p.m. Tickets purchased online at cabrillostage.com or call the box office 831-479-6154.