SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Audiences in Santa Maria are being thrilled this holiday season by the spectacular PCPA presentation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The popular Broadway musical debuted in Marian Theatre on Nov. 3 and has drawn rare reviews.
"It has been so overwhelming," said choreographer Michael Jenkinson, who also plays 'Cogsworth' in the show. "There is yelling, applause and excitement. The overall reception of the piece has been excellent."
Based on the 1991 Academy Award winning animated Disney classic that was later developed into a smash Broadway production, the PCPA show is a captivating two-hour plus experience.
"The thing that is really special about the musical on stage is that it's being performed live by real human beings and that adds another dimension that the animated feature can't possess," said director Mark Booher, who is also PCPA Artistic Director.
Following the unlikely love story between the title characters, Beauty and the Beast is a show aimed at the entire family and is suitable for children as young as four years old.
"It is a masterpiece," said Jenkinson. "It has magic. It just has everything that you would want for a holiday show."
Booher notes the overall scope of the presentation is ambitious, even for PCPA's impressive standard.
"It has a lot of big moving pieces, amazing costumes, fantastic stagecraft, magic that has to happen during the course of the show, so it's really complicated to produce, but the payoff is really wonderful," Booher said.
Booher adds the production value will offer surprises, adding to the overall enjoyment of the performance.
"Hopefully our audiences come and say, wow, that's wonderful, how did they do that? Because we don't have the advantages of editing," said Booher. "We have to do everything live in real time in front of an audience, and so, that's part of what makes it really special is the magic happens right in front of you."
What makes Beauty and the Beast so universally loved and cherished is the important message at the heart of story.
"Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful, beautiful story," said George Walker, who portrays 'Gaston.' "It's a timeless story and a story for the whole family with a wonderful lesson about where beauty actually exists. Does it exist on the outside or on the inside?"
This is actually the second time Beauty and the Beast has been performed at PCPA. However, audience members who attended the first performance 11 years ago, are encouraged to return and experience a brand new experience.
"We have an opportunity to interpret afresh," said Booher. "We're not just doing anybody else's version of Beauty and the Beast, this is something that is custom-built, really hand-made for this community right here in Santa Maria, so the design concepts, the construction of the scenery, costumes, props, all of that happens right here at PCPA."
Beauty and the Beast features many well-known songs that have become classics since they first debuted in the animated film 25 years ago, including "Be Our Guest," "Human Again," and the Academy Award-nominated title song. However, the stage version has added some new pieces that give the show a fresh perspective.
"It has familiar songs and a story that you know and also pieces to that that you may not be familiar with because there are new songs in the Broadway musical that are not in the animated feature," said Jenkinson.
The cast and crew is particularly excited the show has been drawing large crowds of children, and will continue to do so through the duration of its seven-week long run.
"Some young people are going to come see this play and it's going to be the first live theatre production that they ever see," said Booher. "Our commitment is to make it awesome. We want them to come and see a play and say the theatre is fantastic, I want to keep having this be a part of my life."
Beauty and the Beast runs in the Marian Theatre through Dec. 23. The show runs one time on Wednesdays, Fridays, and twice on Saturdays and Sundays.
It runs daily during its final week, except for Monday, Dec. 19. It is appropriate for all ages and families are encouraged to bring children.
Children under five are not allowed for evening performances. Children ages four and up are permitted for 1:30 p.m. matinee performances.
For more information and tickets, visit http://www.pcpa.org/