Many years ago, on a newspaper not so far away, I was chatting with a Disney studios staffer, and remarked how the recent animated features played like Broadway musicals.
"Yeah," he said, obviously warming to the subject, "we were all a bunch of theater nerds in high school, and it all just came out of that."
At the time, he said he didn't know of plans to actually produce musicals, but a few years later, on a family visit to the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, we stopped at the Videopolis stage, where we saw a short version of "Beauty and the Beast," which was based on the film and worked very well as a live theatrical production.
And not long after that, "Beauty and the Beast" became the first in an onslaught of Disney productions on Broadway, and started dire predictions of "Disneyization" of the Great White Way. This, of course, was to be the end of Broadway, but, despite the spread of these cheerful, old fashioned musicals, theater in Manhattan is stronger than ever.
Beginning with a beautiful young woman, a monster living in a castle at the edge of town and a singing, dancing, wisecracking candlestick, a whole new chapter in the history of musical comedy was written. And if you'd like to see how it started, you can see Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre's production of the musical beginning at 8 p.m. Nov. 2 in Pleasanton's Firehouse Arts Center at 4444 Railroad Ave.
The show opens the company's new season, presenting the musical just as it appeared on Broadway, but will include "some of our own magic on the set, costumes and lighting," according to co-artistic director David Judson. The magic includes special effects done with lights as well as projections to bring The Beast's castle alive.
Two actresses with Pleasanton connections will perform leading roles in "Beauty and the Beast. Joy Sherratt plays Belle (Beauty) and Lauren Bratton-Kearns is cast in the role of Silly Girl. Joshua K. Milbourne from the South Bay will play The Beast.
The company will also stage special "Meet the Princess Tea Parties," at 12:45 p.m. before the Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 matinees. The tea and treats will be served in the Rudy and Marge Johnson Studio on the second floor of the firehouse. Tickets cost $10 and may be purchased at the arts center box office.
"Beauty and the Beast" performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 18.
Tickets, at $18 to $33 ($17 to $29 for children and seniors) may be reserved at 925-931-4848 or www.firehousearts.org.
BRING BACK THE ROCK AND ROLL: A portfolio of work by photographer James Fortune made from 1967 to 1980 continues on display in Danville's Village Theatre Art Gallery at 233 Front St. through Nov. 9.
The work in the display includes more than 100 photos and features pictures from the albums of many famous rock icons, as well as numerous photographs of rock stars in performance.
The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, connect with 925-314-3400 or www.villagetheatregallery.com.
Contact Pat Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.