Theater unveils ‘Beauty and the Beast’ after extended delay

Camille Grochowski | Banner | The costumes for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ are displayed on a rack in preparation for the show.

Magic most certainly is in the air – Disney magic to be exact. California Baptist University will be hosting a live showing of “Beauty and the Beast” in the Wallace Theatre beginning Nov. 19. There will be a matinee show on the evening of Nov. 20, and there will be showings from Dec. 2-4 after Thanksgiving break.

The theater program was originally preparing to perform “Beauty and the Beast” in spring 2020. However, due to the onset of the pandemic, the show never took place. As a result, some returning actors have been waiting to do this show for well over a year.

“We were going into dress rehearsal week when everything was closed down for COVID,” said Lisa Lyons, adjunct professor of theater. “The process has been different the second time around. Many of the principles were from the previous show. Belle, Beast, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Cogsworth and the Wardrobe knew their lines and music already. The ensemble is basically new to the show, so they had to learn lines, music and choreography.”

On top of a long gap between the intended opening night and this semester, there were still some other bumps in the road.

Camille Grochowski | CBU Banner Alexis Parsio applies prosthetics to Nathan Sporcich, who plays the Beast in the production.

“We did have an outbreak of COVID, so we lost about a week of rehearsal,” Lyons said. “After that, though it was all hands on deck to get to this week.”

Sophia Oliveri, senior theater major, will portray Mrs. Potts in the production. She spoke about what she is most excited about for opening night.

“(I am excited for) the live audience,” Oliveri said. “That’s what’s been missing. Without an audience what’s the point of live theater?”

Oliveri said the cast and crew worked tirelessly the first time around, and this work ethic has continued into this semester’s production.

“The initial cast list came out Dec. 6, 2019,” Oliveri said. “From there we rehearsed 20 hours, if not more, a week. This production, we began casting two days into the semester and have been rehearsing since.”

Rehearsals this semester ran from 7-11 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a weekend rehearsal period on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In the week leading to opening night, the actors rehearse from 5:30 p.m. until 12 a.m., and the crew is in the theater even earlier.

Although it has been difficult to wait several semesters to do the show, Oliveri said she is excited to be part of the show, especially since it has changed since 2019.

“Personally, it’s been a funny challenge navigating being a six-foot teapot,” Oliveri said. “My right arm is a lot stronger having been a spout for over a year. It’s such a blessing to be a part of this production at CBU. We have grown and changed so much since 2019 and it’s so cool being able to see this show with life breathed into it again.”

Nathan Sporcich, junior marketing major, is portraying the Beast. He said he experienced some struggles with getting back into his character after the long gap of time between the originally planned performance date and now, but he is looking forward to performing in person again.

“I experienced some trouble in finding myself returning to my performance the first time around when the show was set to perform in 2020,” Sporcich said. “It’s been a while since I have done that, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Plus, the show is going to be just what people need to lift their spirits from the pandemic.”

Sporcich also gave some insight about this long journey and what came from it.

“The journey so far has been quite unpredictable and precautious, but ultimately has been a time of strong bonding and lasting memories,” Sporcich said.

Lyons said it has been a long journey to get to the show, but she is proud of how the show has progressed.

“Opening night will be a wonderful culmination of a lot of hard work,” Lyons said. “The costumes, sets, lights, sound, projections (and) all the technical aspects of the show are pretty fantastic. Come see the show. (It is) a great way to start the holiday season.”

Students can buy discounted tickets at the box office for $10. Military veterans and CBU faculty and staff can purchase tickets for $12, and general admission for everyone else is $15.

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