The set design (photo above left) is dramatic and artistically done, playing a key role in the look and feel of the production. (Above right) The students in the cast who are experienced actors have certainly lived up to expectations.

SPHS performing Beauty and the Beast

March 23, 2011
Santa Paula High School

By Duane Ashby

High school theater productions usually provide the community a chance to see new, raw talent, and Santa Paula High School’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” is no exception.  Although there were a few minor technical issues, the opening night performance was a pleasure to watch.  The students in the cast who are experienced actors have certainly lived up to my expectations, but the production also consists of several students, cast in leading roles, who were performing on stage for the first time.

The set design is dramatic and artistically done, playing a key role in the look and feel of the production and I especially enjoyed many of the scenes in the beast’s castle.  Because of the complexity of the set design, there were some scene changes that might have been better accomplished behind a closed curtain. The lighting plot was artistic and worked well to enhance the scenes, but several of the transitions were sudden and somewhat jolting.  The dance scene in the tavern, where the performers dance around the chairs is an especially memorable moment of the show’s entertaining choreography.

It is too bad that the last remodel left the theater with only a monaural sound system.  I would have liked to have listened to the performer’s songs on something better than P.A. speakers.

Natalie Graham, (Belle), is a newcomer to the group but is an experienced performer whose talent shines from the very first moments she appears on stage.  I was captivated by her beautiful voice, and looked forward in anticipation to each song she would sing.

Several times during the performance I kept thinking to myself that Felicia Echiribel, (Mrs. Potts), has a delightfully sweet voice and I enjoyed each of her songs.  She also played her role so well that if I had a mansion, I would hire her in an instant to run the household.

Many years ago Santa Paula was introduced to Samantha Amey as she played Woodstock in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and she continues to captivate audiences as the flirtatious feather duster, Babette, whose coquettish relationship with Lumiere is delightful and fun. Lumiere, played by Ozzy Parrilla, is superbly brought to life by Ozzy’s talents.  His somewhat stuffy companion, Cogsworth, is played by Isreal Lopez, and is convincing.  The two work very well together.

If his penguin farming aspirations fail to come to fruition, Robert Nunez, (Lefou), should certainly look forward to performing on stage again, as evidenced by his entertaining portrayal of Gaston’s, (Joshua Valencia), sidekick.  Even though this is Joshua’s first year in theater, he was thoroughly entertaining in the role of Gaston. His facial expressions were a treat to watch and he becomes more the part with each passing scene.

Talon Smith, (Beast), confesses in his bio that this is the very first time he has ever been in a show and sung in public.  Although I could tell that he felt intimidated, he certainly wins points in my book for his work.  Then he sang. Talon, with a voice like that, I demand to see you on stage again and again.

The ensemble scenes were all fun and engaging, but the climatic battle between the villager’s and the denizens of the castle was well done and especially entertaining.  Everyone in the cast is to be congratulated for doing such a wonderful job and for all the effort that has been put into this production.

Performances will be Friday and Saturday 7:00 p.m., Sunday Matinee, 2:00 p.m. thru April 2. Cost $7.00 Adults, $5.00 Students and Seniors. The play is being performed at the Santa Paula High School Freeman Eakin Auditorium, 404 N. 6th Street. Information call 509-0327.

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