'Beauty' -- a magical tale with real life lessons | November 16, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - November 16, 2012

'Beauty' -- a magical tale with real life lessons

Musical rings true for fans of all ages

by Jamie Altman

"Who could ever learn to love a beast?"

This question is posed in front of an archaic set, intermixed with an animated orchestra, at the start of Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre's production of the musical "Beauty and the Beast," being performed through this weekend at downtown's Firehouse Arts Center.

"I think this is the best show that the Disney team has ever written," said Director David Judson. "It has this special effect where magic can transcend upon all age levels."

The story begins with an egocentric prince who denies a beggar asking for a warm place to stay. Consequently, the prince is turned into a hideous beast who must learn the meaning of love and compassion; if he doesn't find mutual love before a magical rose's petals wilt, he will remain a beast forever.

"I think the biggest message of the play is transformation," explained Judson. "Disney did a magical job showing that everyone goes through transformations, some worse and some better than others."

The Beast stays inside his castle for years, in solitude except for his servants who have been converted into talking, inanimate objects. Rather than egotistical, the former prince has become temperamental and heartless, the attributes of a beast.

When Belle, a spirited, independent young woman, shows up at the castle in search of her imprisoned father, the house's occupants perk up: Could this be the girl to break the spell?

On the exterior, the idea seems implausible -- how could such a beautiful girl love a beast? However, Belle, labeled an outcast because of her "odd" love for books, is not so different from the Beast, who is excommunicated due to his hideous features.

"I don't think Belle is so much 'odd,' which is why she questions it so much," explained Joy Sherratt, the actress who plays Belle. "To her, that's just who she is. I think that the townspeople just don't understand her."

As a middle school teacher, Sherratt sees these situations every day.

"It's just the unknown sometimes," she said about the interactions between students, and even adults. "Instead of taking a step back and trying to get to know the person with an open mind, we automatically feel uncomfortable because that person is different."

"Beauty and the Beast" shows that being different isn't so much of a bad thing. "No matter what they say, you make me proud," Belle's father sings to her. "You stand out from the crowd."

The play elucidates a theme that is appealing to all ages.

"It goes beyond the fairytale aspect of it," Sherratt explained. "We're playing these bigger, larger-than-life characters that aren't just for kids."

But children in the audience loved the play, lining up afterward to take pictures with Princess Belle.

"A lot of these characters are very human, and they all have their own troubles and tribulations," Judson said, noting that the audience identifies with them. "Ultimately, because they see the mistakes these characters make, they realize that even though we poke fun at each other, we are all human, and I think that even today we take that for granted."

Although Belle is initially taken as prisoner in the Beast's castle, she soon comes to realize that he is much more than a bitter monster.

"I wonder why I didn't see it there before," she realizes in song.

Last week "Beauty and the Beast" transported audience members into a fairytale world, but it also brought them back to their everyday lives -- with the realization that beauty isn't just what's on the surface, but rather at the core, that describes who a person is.

"I hope everyone was able to feel this magical experience," Judson said. "I think that if we all take a step back and look beyond what's skin deep, we can find beauty in everyone."

"Beauty and the Beast" continues at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night; and at 2 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. Tickets are $17-$33; call 931-4848; visit www.firehousearts.org; or go to box office at 4444 Railroad Ave. .


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Nominations due by Sept. 18

Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com are once again putting out a call for nominations and sponsorships for the annual Tri-Valley Heroes awards - our salute to the community members dedicated to bettering the Tri-Valley and the lives of its residents.

Nomination form