by Lorie Lewis Ham
Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney musical! Instead of a helpless princess who needs to be saved, this show features a strong, courageous, and capable young woman who isn’t afraid to be different and seeks to find the good in everyone-even a beast. The Selma Arts Center’s production of this show opened this past weekend.For anyone who doesn’t know the story, Beauty and the Beast is about a young woman named Belle (Emma DenBesten) who would rather read a book than pretty much anything else, and who dreams of seeing the world. She is raised by a single father who is an inventor named Maurice (Adrian Oceguera), whom everyone thinks is crazy. Belle adores him and thinks he’s wonderful. One day Maurice leaves to show off his latest invention and gets lost in the woods where he stumbles upon the house of The Beast (Aaron Pierce) and ends up in the dungeon. Belle goes to save him, and trades his freedom for hers. The Beast’s home is enchanted and his servants are gradually turning into objects. The only thing that can save them and the Beast is for the Beast to fall in love, and be loved in return.
Gaston (Garrison Bennett) has other plans for Belle, to be his wife, and sets out to make that happen. While all the other girls in the village would love to marry him, Belle would not. He is a brutish, vain, and rude man who always gets his way. Always by his side is his bumbling best friend Lefou (Steven Haynes).
This is a lovely production of the show. Gaston was hilarious and Garrison has a wonderful voice. Emma has a beautiful voice and was an enchanting Belle. The Beast’s servants were fun, and I especially enjoyed Lumiere (Antonio Olivera) and Babette (Marisa Sanchez Bennett) who were adorable together and bubbled over with enthusiasm and charm. Two of my favorite songs in this show are ones featuring the servants, “Human Again” and “Be Our Guest,” and the cast did a splendid job on these iconic songs.
I was very much looking forward to seeing Aaron Pierce as The Beast and I wasn’t disappointed. Aaron is an extremely talented young man with an amazing voice. Acting with a mask for almost the entire show can’t be easy, but Aaron brought the Beast perfectly to life with his voice and movements—presenting both the intimidating side of the Beast, and the gentle side as it slowly emerged. His song “If I Can’t Love Her” is one of my favorites of the show and he performed it perfectly.
Kudos to costumers Damen Pardo, Jeanette Derr, Kimberly Houston, and Theo Hill —the costumes were wonderful! This production had a different twist, adding in dancers in various places throughout the show including having them be the wolves in the forest.
I highly recommend taking the whole family out to see Selma Art’s Center’s production of Beauty and the Beast, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a great story, wonderful songs, and a very talented cast. It performs on stage at the Selma Arts Center, 1935 High St, Selma, CA, until October 5. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can also find the podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts Spotify, and Google Play, and also on podbean. A perfect one for Halloween season just went up this week where the story is told by a black cat!
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