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Disney's Beauty and the Beast ROARS into Thousand Oaks!

21 July 2018

Yvette Lawrence (Director) and Susan Egan (Belle). Photo by Ed Krieger.
Five-Star Theatricals, formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre, is presenting Disney’s Beauty and the Beast for a limited two-week run with 10 performances from July 20 through 29. The show stars Susan Egan, who earned both Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations for best actress as the original Belle in the 1994 Broadway production, and is directed by Yvette Lawrence, who was also in the original Broadway production and played Belle in Los Angeles opposite James Barbour. With music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and Book by Linda Woolverton, the Broadway musical has returned to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza 16 years after the 3rd National Tour's visit in 2002. And as newly titled Artistic Director Patrick Cassidy said on opening night, this is Broadway. And why he said? Because not only the Broadway quality talent from the AEA and those whom might be eligible for their AEA cards but thanks to Dan Redfeld's lush sounding 19 piece live orchestra.
Jason Chacon, Susan Egan. Photo by Ed Krieger.
Leading lady Susan Egan (Belle) is just as enchanting as she must have been in 1994. Her voice as lush and dynamic as was forever captured on the Original Broadway Cast recording. Her acting just as spritely and playful as exhibited at the Tony Awards. The last 24 years have done nothing to dampen the original Belle's allure. For those of you who have seen Egan on Broadway or at the Shubert Theater, you'll be delighted to know that this time around she gets to sing "A Change in Me" (the second act number that was written specifically for Toni Braxton's turn as Belle on Broadway) and it's as if you were listening to Egan's rendition on So Far but with the joy of seeing her live and opposite the delightfully paternal David Gilchrist (Maurice).

Her leading man, Jason Chacon (Beast), has tall shoes to fit but unfortunately never seems to hit the mark. His vocals are top notch when he hits those power notes during everyone's favorite ballad, "If I Can't Love Her". Perhaps part of the problem is visual because he does not appear to be that much taller next to Susan Egan or any of the other cast for that matter. Looking back that was one of the beauties of such performers as James Barbour - the height difference that lent itself to a menacing and fearful "Beast". It made it believable when Belle cowers and jumps in fear at the Beast when they argue in her bedroom at the castle. In this version however it became less of a scary beast but a temperamental beast. Belle was less the cowering girl locked away from her father but a stronger and more independent woman who is ready to fight and stand up for herself. Chacon did seem to come into his own more so during the second act when he had a chance to show his comedic chops opposite Marc Ginsburg (Lumiere) and Gregory North (Cogsworth) as the nervous lovestruck suitor.

Susan Egan, David Gilchrist. Photo by Ed Krieger.
Sadly Susan Egan (Belle) and Jason Chacon (Beast) were never able to create any real chemistry despite both being excellent actors and singers. Their best moments were during "Something's There" when Belle reads to the Beast. Egan did however charm the audience with her heart-tugging daughterly chemistry with community favorite David Gilchrist (Maurice). Lawrence perfectly nailed it when she said,
You'll totally believe the connection between Belle and her father...The connection the two of them have is just beautiful.

Marc Ginsburg, Jason Chacon. Photo by Ed Krieger.
The opening night castle residents all gave great performances and earned some of the most rousing rounds of applause. Marc Ginsburg (Lumiere) previously starred in 5-Star Theatricals' Joseph... as Reuben and Evita as Che where he was noted for being a vocal powerhouse. His turn as Lumiere was spot-on hilarious and his chemistry with Gregory North (Cogsworth) and Devon Davidson (Babette) sparkled as if they had been working together for months and not just weeks. Sarah Marie (Mrs. Potts U/S) is quite sweet and handles the title song well with professionalism. Nandami Sinha's Madame de la Grande Bouche is hilarious and exhibits strong operatic vocals but unfortunately her accent is tough to understand. A nice surprise were the talented Courtni Gidish and Aaron Camitses as Salt and Pepper who were a featured dance duo in "Be Our Guest".

William Carmichael, Adam Hollick, Justin Charles Cowden. Photo by Ed Krieger.
Adam Hollick as Gaston is properly full of bravado aided by Justin Charles Cowden as LeFou in one of the liveliest performances of the evening. Those who remember Hollick from last year's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be impressed by his comedic chops and well chiseled biceps. No, seriously, I heard two older ladies giggling in admiration over those very biceps on the walk to the parking garage. As his sidekick, Cowden is wonderfully buffoonish and handles all his physical comedy well.

And as is the norm with 5-Star Theatricals, the ensemble and kids ensemble were high caliber! Great dancers and singers.

Yvette Lawrence's direction and Cheryl Baxter's choreography deserve their own bow. Not being able to borrow from Robert Roth's original and iconic direction must be very tough but Yvette Lawrence makes the show her own as was best highlighted during "If I Can't Love Her" and Cheryl Baxter does a compelling job with a rousing "Gaston".

And as Patrick Cassidy said in his opening speech, many of the costumes, props and sets came direct from Broadway and tours and they look fabulous. Aside from some uncomfortable looking padding for the Beast, both of the title stars look radiant, especially when Egan gets to dazzle in her yellow ballgowns. The let down for those of us who have seen previous incarnations of Beauty and the Beast was the diminishing scale of what was once a large and lavish scenic design with an impressive castle, including the Beast's library and tower. Lawrence does make the most with what she has been given to work with. And in this reviewer's mind, this production still runs circles around the recent live action film.
Susan Egan, Adam Hollick, Ensemble. Photo by Ed Krieger.
Many might think this piece will only appeal to children. However, this is a musical with a universal appeal.  Beauty and the Beast is for both the young AND the young at heart. As Yvette Lawrence said,
Be prepared to fall in love with Beauty and the Beast all over again.
Note: This production is being dedicated to the memory of Gary Beach, the Original Lumiere, who sadly passed away on 17 July 2018.

Dates: 20 July - 29 July 2018
Tickets: $35-$89 at Ticketmaster or the Box Office
Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks, Thousand OaksCA 91362
Parking: $8 (cash only)
Appropriate Ages: All ages! All children must have a ticket.
Accessible Questions: See my previous post here.

5 Star Theatricals Invites YOU to Be Our Guest!

20 July 2018

Community favorite, 5 Star Theatricals (formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre) invites YOU to "Be Our Guest" for what looks like the musical experience of the year starring Susan Egan as Belle, the role she originated on Broadway in 1994.
Yvette Lawrence and Susan Egan. Photo by Ed Krieger.
For more details and ticket information, check out my interview with Yvette Lawrence, the show's director who also happens to have been Susan Egan's replacement as Belle in LA at the Shubert Theater!

Those of you who have accessibility issues, please see my post here.

Until next time!


Blogging With a Disability

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Four years ago I was living life to the fullest believing my dreams were about to explode with rainbows and pixie dust and etcetera. Turning thirty years old I believed that it was going to be the best year of my life. It was indeed a fabulous year in London going to grad school and learning in some of the greatest museums and galleries of the world with an international cast of classmates and new bffs.

Fast forward to November 21, 2014, and I woke up to a nightmare. I could not feel my feet nor fingers. I couldn't see clearly and my eyes were burning for no apparent reason. My brain was overwhelmed in the midst of a fog I could not seem to escape. And worst I could not walk or move without intense pain. I was literally crawling from my bedroom into the kitchen for a glass of water I could hardly even hold. Welcome to my new "normal".

It's been almost four years and while some things have gotten better others have gotten worse. Even my primary physician says I have regressed in several areas. Ah, life.

Dragon Professional Individual for Mac 6.0 (Physical version)Because of my pain in my arms and hands, I can hardly type due to pain and numbness. I try to use Apple's free dictation app for my blog posts, emails and Siri dictation services on my iPhone for my tweets and facebook posts. Unfortunately the Apple dictation app on my MacBook is devious and will constantly delete what I've already dictated, and write things I never said. Talk about wanting to bang my head against the keyboard.

Trying to figure out a way to get Dragon Professional Individual for MAC. Even my therapist is telling me I need to get it... If only it didn't cost so much for the Mac version.

I have tried to look for alternative ways to blog. There's been my attempts at vlogging on YouTube but the setup and then the editing and posting is draining and difficult on the arms and hands and brain.

So here are some of my favorite tips for blogging with a disability:

The most recent tip I have tried is to create several posts in advance and schedule them for future dates. I love this!! It allows me during a "good" hour to create some blog posts that can come out later when I am not necessarily able.

Copy and paste. Nobody says you cannot copy and paste previous work to use as a template. Also when I am sharing calendar information, it is perfectly ordinary to use the script they've created as a starting place.

Do you have any tips? Suggestions?

Until next time,


WW: Stone Fire Grill

19 July 2018

Morning! Day 3 was another success on my weight loss journey.

For breakfast, I tried non-fat Greek yogurt (Trader Joe's) combined with low-fat granola (Trader Joe's) and blueberries.

For lunch, I made a 1/2 baked potato (2 smart points) with non-fat Greek yogurt, broccoli and a dash of parsley and cheddar cheese.

For dinner, the family went out to Stonefire Grill for another weekend family dinner. I must have spent a good half hour agonizing over nutritional facts and smart points. The frustrating thing was that Stonefire Grill does not provide sugar facts on their nutritional pdf which Weight Watchers requires for smart points calculations so I had to make guesses.

TIP: Don't go to the restaurant's website looking for nutritional facts. For some reason the only pdf I could find was the allergen facts.

I ended up getting:
1 petite salad w/ dressing on the side
1 petite tri tip w/o sauce
1 1/2 breadsticks

Like I said, there is no sugar facts so there was some guessing on the smart points (but I did lose weight!) but it looked like 2 points for a petite salad, 7 points for a breadstick and 11 points for a full petite tri tip (with pepper garlic sauce).

The salad and tri tip were split into two portions so I could have some more on another date.


My Goal: 40 pounds
Day 1 Weight Loss: 2.7 pounds

Day 2 Weight Loss: 1.2 pounds

Day 3 Weight Loss: 1.8 pounds
Total Weight Loss: 5.3 pounds (!!!!)

WW: Day 2 Eating Out

18 July 2018

Good morning! Thanks for following along on my Weight Watchers journey towards healthy eating and shedding these extra pounds.

Day 2 involved most of the same foods for breakfast and lunch as Day 1 so I won't bore you with the details. You can find my waffle recipe (3-4 smart points) here and my lunch (7 smart points here) here.

For dinner, I went out with the family for some fast food and after reading and re-reading the nutritional facts and using my smart points calculator, I knew what I was going to eat with my remaining 17 points.

I ended up getting a Kid's charburger open faced meaning only using half the bun. That allows me to enjoy some bread while also being able to enjoy a small portion of fries that is included in the kids basket. I left for and satisfied and happy and has my Weight loss points will show you below I still Lost over a pound! So a huge thank you to the website exercise for weight loss with their handy Smart points calculator and nutritional facts for popular restaurants. Obviously I won't be going out to dinner most nights but on the weekends it's become tradition to eat out as a family. So kudos to Weight Watchers for not preventing me from going out with the family for a bite, change of scenery, and a good time with the family.

What are your favorite cheats when dining out?

My Goal: 40 pounds
Day 1 Weight Loss: 2.7 pounds

Day 2 Weight Loss: 1.2 pounds
Total Weight Loss: 3.9 pounds (!!!!)

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