By Kathy Carpenter
July 29, 2018 (El Cajon) - A new pop musical version of the classic Fairy Tale, Beauty and the Beast, is now onstage at Grossmont College. First off, go in without the expectation this is the Disney version you know and love. This version is adapted by the talented Jennette Thomas. It’s more of a mash up between Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, with pop songs you know and love. Another time, another place.
The production is co-directed by Mitzi Smith and Allison Spratt Pearce, who also did the choreography. This is the 2018 summer conservatory where high school and college students work side by side, both on stage and off. Musical direction is by Jon Lorenz.
With the theme "You should never judge a book by its cover," this musical production aims to inspire and remind the audience "that if you look within and acknowledge your unique and individual beauty, great things can happen and dreams can be realized."
Calla Lilly, played by Danica Waitley, with her own unique style is our heroine: beautiful, but smart from reading books. She wants adventure. James Allen plays Henry/Beast. I really connected with the Beast in this version. He had an amazing voice and his costume wasn't as ugly as in other versions I’ve seen. Kelsey Baker and Ashley Carter played Calla Lilly's sisters, Marigold and Violet. Yes, their mom loved flowers. Alas, the mom has died and the dad is in poor health. The sisters are complete opposites of Calla Lilly; they are material girls. The dad, played by Jon Agee, weathers out a storm in the cursed Beast Castle, but is held prisoner when he tries to take the Rose for Calla Lilly.
The servants are still cursed objects but they are different: we have a carafe, a spade. a bell, a chandler and I guess a pepper shaker, also a family crest. Zoee Bauer played Syrah, the wine carafe--her voice was fabulous--along with Sha'nyeyah White as Pepper. They really can sing. You'll love the fun songs in the show.
Jake Strohl was the villain, Trenton, fiancee to Marigold. He plans to marry the elder daughter, kill off the father and take the money. He pulls off the role with aplomb. To accomplish his plan he enlists the help of a friend and cohort, Florian, played by Estaban Quinones.
My favorite scene is the dance scene. True it's a different song, but Calla Lilly is wearing a gorgeous pale yellow gown and the couple does have chemistry. The Beast is dressed up and it's romantic. I'm a sucker for romance every time.
My only regret is they did not put Calla Lilly back in the gown for the bows.
Come witness this world premeire, a fun twist.on your old favorite.
Remember, Grossmont College’s theatre is still in construction mode, so arrive early.
You will also have the chance to win some fantasy designer shoes; the drawing opportunity is $5 a ticket or five for $20. The winner will be drawn after the run of show.
7/26 - Aug 4, 2018
El Cajon, CA
2019 Summer Conservatory
Disney's The Little Mermaid