While audiences were first introduced to the story of the young woman who falls for a beast in Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s story La belle et la bête, published in 1740, it is Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s 1756 abridged version that is most commonly known. So familiar is it that nearly half a century later, Belle and her cursed beau continue to delight audiences, most notably in this spring’s live-action film adaptation from Disney.
In addition to the numerous celluloid iterations, Belle and Beast have graced the stage as well, including a Broadway run from 1994 to 2007. This June, the fairy tale will unfold under the stars at the Solvang Festival Theater when PCPA presents the beloved musical. While the timing is obviously excellent — folks have been enamored anew thanks to Emma Watson’s and Dan Stevens’ performances on the big screen — PCPA director Mark Booher had other reasons for slating the musical, which ends the company’s 2016-17 season. “This story hopes for and believes things that I hope for and believe … that beauty is found within,” he said. “That who you are inside is more important than your appearance. It’s also a story that says redemption is possible, even when you’ve made a horrible mistake.”
The role of Beast will be played by Matt Koenig, who received an Independent Theater Award for his side-splitting portrayal of Black Stache in PCPA’s porduction of Peter and the Starcatcher. Other familiar faces round out the cast, including George Walker (Gaston), Peter S. Hadres (Maurice), Andrew Philpot (Lumiere), and Kitty Balay (Mrs. Potts).
The musical runs June 15-July 2, at Solvang Festival Theater, 420 2nd Street, Solvang. Call (805) 922-8313 or see pcpa.org.