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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 (!!!!)

WW: Day 1 Snack

17 July 2018

Morning! Happy Tuesday! Time to share a recipe for everyone's favorite food group. Chocolate. 

Come on, you know you love it.

Thanks to Weight Watcher's website and booklets I discovered a mouth watering way to satisfy my summertime craving for s'mores and a chance to indulge in some chocolate.

Bring on the S'more!

12 mini marshmallows (1)
10 semisweet chocolate chips (1)
4 graham cracker squares (4)


Divide the marshmallows and chocolate chips on top of two graham cracker squares. To get the wonderful burnt taste to the marshmallows while also melting the chocolate down, use a lighter to catch each of the marshmallows on fire. Easy peasy. If you fancy the full effect add two more graham cracker squares to press down on the gooey marshmallows. If you'd like to save two smart points, try it as an open faced s'more such as Weight watchers recommends.

Accessible Note in the Kitchen: And for those of you with hand troubles like me (thank you Fibromyalgia) the hardest part is handling the lighter! If you have troubles with a lighter feel free to put your s'mores in the microwave for half a minute or bake in the oven at 375 for 5-10 minutes until the chocolate is melted and marshmallows are gooey.

So here is to positive healthy eating!

My Goal: 40 pounds
Day 1 Weight Loss: 2.7 pounds (!!!)

Next time we will discuss my Day 2 menu that includes dinner out and about without breaking the scale.

Last Man Standing: Wishful Casting and Audience Tickets

16 July 2018

So exciting!
Who else is super excited that Last Man Standing is coming back for a seventh inning oh I mean season courtesy of Fox Studios?

Tim Allen and Jonathan Adams. (C) ABC Studios.
It's great to see that Jonathan Adams, Chuck AKA Tim Allen's characters best friend and neighbor, is coming back as a regular. Their comedic timing and chemistry was always off the charts.
Tim Allen and Molly Ephraim. (C) ABC Studios.
But I am heartbroken to know that Molly Ephraim who played middle daughter Mandy to perfection and was definitely my favorite of the daughters Will not be coming back. It would be super cool if they brought back Alexandra Krosney to play Mandy but I think that might be wishful thinking. For those of you that watched season one you might remember she played to perfection oldest daughter Kristin. And hey we are ready know she has chemistry with Kyle, Mandy's husband.
Alexandra Krosney and Molly Ephraim. (c) ABC Studios.
Back to my exciting news... I have had on my calendar for probably a month (LOL) the upcoming first production filming date for Last Man Standing so that I could get tickets when they first become available (typically 30 days prior to a filming). So now that I've snagged my tickets I can share with you all the good news and details for how to get your tickets too.

First, you'll want to see the "Future Show Dates" page so you know when Last Man Standing is scheduled to film. The first scheduled date is August 14 and they are scheduled through to the end of October. As I said, Audiences Unlimited releases tickets 30 days prior to filming so you'll want to keep an eye out for tickets in advance so as not to lose your opportunity.  And unfortunately for younger fans the audience minimum age is 18.

According to their website the show is filmed at CBS Studios in Studio City at 6 o'clock in the evening. On my ticket, it says that the audience is encouraged to arrive at least 60 minutes early for check-in and that the tickets DOES NOT guarantee admission.

I am so excited (can you tell?) and also thrilled to say that Audiences Unlimited and CBS Studios are respectful of their special needs attendees and provide some bench seating in the check-in area and also limited accessible accommodations!! I can't wait to come back from the taping to share with you all the experience. But a big shout out to Steve and Audiences Unlimited for their prompt reply to my email and for their willingness to help those of us who may require assistance.

G'luck getting your tickets! And I can't wait to hopefully (cross fingers!) have a review to share with you all of the accessible accommodations and Last Man Standing live filming experience.

Updated on July 17: Looks like all the tickets for the first taping are gone! So be sure to save the date for any future taping you want to attend so you can sign up 30 days in advance when they go online and not miss out.

WW: Day 1 Lunch + Dinner

For lunch on Day #1 I had some left over tuna fish (2 Smart points) with 15 Lays oven baked potato chips (2 Smart points) for a quick and easy lunch.

Alternative options: Some of you might like an open face sandwich. You can use one slice of bread for two smart point as well. Reduced calorie bread is one smart point per slice. Another option if you would prefer bread is to have an English muffin. I believe it is two smart points for a light muffin. I decided to avoid any sugar that might be in the bread and enjoy dipping my tuna fish with chips.

Tip: To keep your tuna fish light in smart points, consider using light mayonnaise and maybe substituting it all together with mustard which is zero points. I stuck with some reduced fat mayonnaise which is 2 smart points for 1 tablespoon, mustard and a spoonful of relish which is approximately one smart point.

For dinner I celebrated a good day done With 2 eggs, veggies and a peach that equal zero smart points. I have to read anywhere specifically the said you need to have fewer smart points at dinner time but I figured it won't hurt to try. I would have taken a picture but I was hungry and wanted to eat so started the wolfing it down before I thought to pull out my camera. LOL. But I think we all know what eggs and veggies and a peach look like don't we? And by the way if you live near Trader Joe's and fancy some peaches they have a great deal on a flat of peaches that are just delicious.

That's it for now. I hope this is been educational and helpful for you all. It's always helpful to know what works and that you're losing weight in the process Well being healthy. In particular I am trying to avoid too much sugar and the emotional snacking that comes with being home during the day with my thoughts.

Accessible Note in the Kitchen: And for those of you with hand troubles like me (thank you Fibromyalgia) the hardest part is prying open the tuna can! If you have troubles with a can opener try an electric one, ask a friend for help, or get one with a tab.

So here is to positive healthy eating!

My Goal: 40 pounds
Day 1 Weight Loss: 2.7 pounds (!!!)

Next time I will share with you my new favorite Weight Watchers chocolate dessert and snack that is only 5 to 7 points depending on a couple choices you might make. And you can still lose weight eating it!

WW: National Ice Cream Day

15 July 2018

Ice Cream and Graham Norton (c) The Joyous Living
When I heard today was National Ice Cream Day I had to check out what Weight Watchers had to say about ice cream and found this handy table.

ProductPortion SizePointsPlus value
Fruit-flavored ice pop1 item1
Sherbert1/2 cup2
Sorbet1/2 cup2
Low-fat frozen yogurt1/2 cup3
Ice cream sandwich1 item4
Fat-free ice cream, no sugar added1/2 cup2
Soft-serve French vanilla ice cream1/2 cup5
Premium ice cream1/2 cup8
Obviously I won't be having a three scoop treat like I did for my 30th birthday but who says you can't have a small scoop and add some fresh fruit as garnish for zero smart points?
A Birthday Luncheon at the Stag (c) The Joyous Living.

Wanted to follow up by saying I had 2 Tablespoons of a "premium ice cream" (Ben and Jerry's Milk and Cookies) and according to the Weight watchers' app, that came to 3.25 smart points. I at first thought that wouldn't be enough but because of the sweetness it was just the right size coupled with banana and blueberry.

WW: Day 1 Breakfast

Morning! Happy Sunday! Time to start on our adventure towards healthy eating. I wanted to start off with a recipe for everyone's favorite meal of the day. Breakfast.

Multigrain Belgium Waffles! (2.25 smart points!)
Mix together:
1/3 Cup Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking & Pancake Mix [4 Smart points]
1 Egg White [0]
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Original Almond Milk [<1]
1 Tablespoon Oil [4]

Split batter into 4 sections. Personally my Belgium Waffle maker makes 2 whole waffles which I split into 4 portions.

Because fruit counts for zero points, feel free to top your waffle with your favorite assortment. On Day #1 I used fresh strawberries. Yum!

If you're looking for a little something sweet and moist, consider pureeing some strawberries with water in the blender [Zero Points] or you can add up to 1 Tablespoon of Sugar Free Lite Syrup for 1 Smart point!!

For some added protein, I also baked one slice of Turkey Bacon (1 smart point) on the side. But you could also choose zero point eggs.

Easy peasy and yummy. And for those of you with hand troubles like me (thank you Fibromyalgia) the hardest part is the few seconds stirring the batter at the beginning. Heck you could use your mixer if you want!

You can have your carbs and lose weight too!


My Goal: 40 pounds
Day 1: 2.7 pounds (!!!)

Come back later for my Day 1 lunch and dinner.

Weight Watchers: The Beginning

14 July 2018

Hi guys! What a crazy 4 years it has been. Ups and downs. Heartbreak, laughter and joy. But also an annoying amount of weight gain. I must have gained a good 40-50 pounds in the last 4 years, 30 of it was last year when my medication changed. With everything going on, weight loss seemed low on the list of things to do. And yes I have tried 3 diets but after an initial loss of 5-10 pounds I seemed to always plateau. Maybe because of the lack of exercise (darn you, body!) or maybe because of "who knows what" but I always got discouraged and was disappointed so started comfort eating again. Let's be honest. Life is rough enough without losing something you enjoy like that bowl of pasta and KW homemade cookie.

But it's time folks. I am starting Weight Watchers with my mum and therapist's encouragement. I am going to start post my menus and recipes and food pictures. Hopefully these will be useful for someone out there and if you have any suggested recipes please share!! Good luck to all who are driven to get healthier. x

Review: Halo Salt Spas

13 July 2018

Good afternoon!
What a fun adventure my girlfriend and I went on this afternoon. Have you ever heard of the salt room phenomenon
For more information, visit their website at
Remember the first salt session is FREE for new customers! And I can assure you that no sales pitch was made nor did we feel uncomfortable at any time. In fact Judy at the front desk was more than accommodating and welcoming to any and all questions and conversation.
Accessible Note - there is a flight of stairs leading up and down to the courtyard where Halo Salt Spas is. I did not see an elevator and forgot to ask (Sorry guys!) but I was thankful to say that there is a rail for support and a landing in the middle of the staircase to catch a breath if necessary.

VLOG: Plenty of Fish (Part Deux)

12 July 2018

LOL! After reading a couple blogs this morning I decided to enjoy a couple hours of entertainment online in the form of online dating. Come along for the adventure...

So what do you think? Ladies are you turned off by the same sort of photos as I am?

Fibromyalgia: A Good Day

09 July 2018

FYI: For any new readers, thanks for visiting! And many pardons in advance for errors because I use a dictation app to write my posts due to my pain.

After my last post on my Fibromyalgia frustrations you probably are wondering what I would consider a "good day"...

Man, that is a really tough one! Today I was reading an article on questions to ask your doctor about Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (another diagnosis that's been floated around) and I wanted to hurl. It was so sad and depressing to read questions such as whether I should take my medication and when I'm having a good day feeling fine. I wanted to laugh, cry, hurl, et cetera. What gibberish to say that I was having a fine day and didn't any my medication. With my medication I'm lucky enough to feel a level VI pain on a good good day. And Yes I was a deliberate good good day. LOL. But the truth is I don't know what it means anymore to feel fine. I don't know what I mean to say is this too much exercise? I don't know what it means to Question how much is too much. Actually I do know that question. There are times when I wonder are you going grocery shopping on a Saturday with my dad that will have me incapacitated for the rest of the weekend. Or whether going to retirement party at a friends home will be too much and cause me to have anxiety, excessive exhaustion and horrible pain otherwise can be avoided. So yes I do know the latter question but I wish oh yes I wish that I knew the question of can I take my medication on a fine day when I don't feel like I needed. That would be a fabulous day.

But we are speaking in real terms and so I will describe today what a good day is. Yesterday I had a good day. I rested in the morning, Took my medication, petted the dog, did a little Google research of no importance, made lunch, and managed to shower. All before 4 o'clock in afternoon. And this was thankfully a good day and gosh darn it I lost my page again. I am just complained about how much I hated dictation app because I'm always losing my space, having my work deleted, or being transferred to a completely different page that has nothing to do with my. Post. And guess what it happened again. So let's try to keep this short or I might go crazy LOL. So mom suggested we go to see a movie to get out of the heat because our home does not have air conditioning. Heat wave days are the worst especially because of my heat intolerance in combination with the lack of the cool air. So we googled movies playing and I am woefully out of touch with what is playing currently. We decided on Antman, bought our tickets online and headed out to them mall. I am thrilled to say we found a parking spot in the very front of the lot's. Thank God for my handicap placard and for perfect timing. We parked and walked over to the red Robin next to the movies. Somehow I must've been woozy and more uncorrelated on my feet than usual so walking with my cane was quite amusing. Thankfully no one was tripped away needed to our destination in one piece. We were seated at a booth which is always my favorite meaning I can stretchout my legs to the other Seat and propped my elbows and wrist up on the table. Yes I probably would not work in a fine dining restaurant but this was a chain burger restaurant. Perfect for slouching getting comfortable or at least as comfortable as can be in a public environment.

After dinner mom and I went to the movies discovered our seats were upstairs so thank the Lord there was an escalator so up we went. I was doing pretty fine after our dinner so we settled in to the so Called recliner seats which were really not. The good thing about our seats was that because they were in the front row of the balcony I was able to stretch out my legs and I was able to use the armrest for my elbows and wrists. So we settled in and had some good laughs watching Ant-man. Gosh darn it. Fails me once again. Okay back to the story. As far as comfort goes I would rate these chairs a C. They were comfortable like sinking into a couch and had the necessary armrest. Unfortunately they did not recline so my neck and back suffered more than I'd hoped. The tough part was when the movie was over I was pretty week and unbalanced getting up. So took a little maneuvering to get out of my chair and out of the Cinema. We walked slowly back to the car and by the time I had open the passenger door I was counting my lucky stars that moms car was so close. I don't know if I could've walked anymore steps. What's that saying, God only gives you as much as you can handle? Was quite true in our case that evening. So we headed home I grab my ice pack my pillow and laid down to cuddle with my dog as much as he will let me. That my friends is what I would call it a good day. My pain level was primarily at a low of six. I was with my mom. Being with people is always a blessing. I did something different that I can't even remember the last time I did by going to dinner and a movie. I Lived to tell about it. That is a good day.

What is your idea have a good day? Feel free to sharing the comments below as I go get a fresh ice pack and some more medication for my pain LOL. Hey I didn't say life is perfect or even back to what I would call normal but it's something. Days like these I think of when I'm feeling exceptionally frustrated with my situation. Until next time xo.

PS thank you for overlooking the errors due to my using a dictation app.

Beauty and the Beast: Interview with Yvette Lawrence!

06 July 2018

Five-Star Theatricals, formerly Cabrillo Music Theatre, will present 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. I'm delighted to say that I had the opportunity to chat with Ms. Lawrence on the phone this week to talk about our mutual excitement for the upcoming production. So pull up a cuppa and let's chat...
The Joyous Living: What was your approach to staging Disney’s Beauty and the Beast?
Yvette Lawrence: I wanted to take it back to what Linda Woolverton and Howard Ashman wanted. Rediscovering, reimagine and retelling. Keeping it all based in the message and the strong story telling and focusing on the humanity of what has happened to everyone effected by the spell. Just look how one mistake can effect so many and how transformative is the power of love. 

The Joyous Living: How did your prior experience with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and being Susan Egan's LA replacement as Belle influence your decisions here?
Yvette Lawrence: Obviously we cannot do any of the original blocking and staging. That's not ours to do. An example of changed staging -- The opening is unlike the way it's been done before with the young prince at the door. Our story begins with a party. So that's a big change. It's more like the live action film being introduced to all the main characters in their human form. I wanted everyone to understand that everyone has been effected by this. We have children in our village and in past productions there were no children except for Chip in the castle and we have other children as enchanted objects so he's not the only child so that also makes a difference.

The Joyous Living: The 2017 live action film is probably on the young audiences’ minds when they are buying tickets to see the 5-Star Theatricals production. What would you say to them about expectations?
Yvette Lawrence: They are going to just rediscover the story. Anyone who only knows the movie with Emma Watson will actually get to experience the original Broadway Belle who worked directly with Linda Wolverton (the character's creator). Linda even came in and gave me notes when I was at the Shubert Theatre. Linda's empowerment of the Disney character and female was unique. She didn't want to write a heroine who needed to be saved but wanted to create a Disney heroine who saves the prince.

They'll get a great message and they'll also be super entertained. The choreography, staging, music and costumes! Getting to know these people as people. Even the enchanted objects - the humanity in them is so important for each one. Everyone has a story and in rehearsals we focus on being interconnected and having a story. They'll also not see a typical village of dancers but our village is made up of all shapes and sizes! We actually look like a village.

The Joyous Living: I personally was disappointed with Emma Watson’s yellow gown after Lily James’ opulent blue ballgown and the Broadway and National Tour signature yellow and gold ballgown. I remember going to see the national tour at its stop at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and hearing a little girl, in her Disney dress up gown, gasping and exclaiming to her father in excitement.

Do you have any special memories wearing that iconic gown?
Yvette Lawrence: Both dresses honestly. The blue dress is "oh my gosh! you are Belle." My first performance coming out I remember hearing a child in the audience gasping and saying "Belle!" And with the yellow ballgown you could feel the shift in the audience and feel the awww.  You also have that moment of aww, where you feel so beautiful like a princess. We've been doing Susan's fittings with the yellow ballgown and we will definitely elicit that response again. We'll have the little girls who go awww.

The Joyous Living: How uncomfortable was it to wear and dance around in? I heard stories it would move one way when Susan was trying to go the other way.
Yvette Lawrence [laughing]: Whenever you wear hoop skirts, you have to remember it's going to have a little extra life to it. If you try to do a little too much the gown tends to take over. The gown we have was a little heavy and we had to add a little alterations because Susan is tiny and that dress can become overwhelming

Adam Hollick, Susan Egan and Justin Cowden. Photo: Ed Krieger.
The Joyous Living: Tell me about your amazing cast.
Yvette Lawrence: This cast is just wonderful. Susan and I are always saying how they will not disappoint. People will think they're watching original cast members. They are fantastic. 

Fun fact: Tracy Ray Reynolds [Mrs. Potts] was in our original Shubert Theatre cast and without even knowing it all those years ago she was there absorbing and learning from Beth Fowler [The Original Mrs. Potts].

You'll totally believe the connection between Belle and her father. The first time Susan [Egan] and David Gilchrist [Maurice] sang "No Matter What" we all had tears in our eyes. The connection the two of them have is just beautiful. Tom Bosley [The Original Maurice] was such a patriarch of the show. He was such a papa and David is just the same.

Our Beast, Jason Chacon, is new to us but he IS fantastic. He's going to break your heart and he's also going to scare you.  When Belle leaves it is heartbreaking. We've been starting to work with his tail to work with it to get him used to it. He has an absolutely beautiful voice and a lovely actor.
Yvette Lawrence and Susan Egan. Photo: Ed Krieger.
Susan [Egan] has been wonderful to work with and open to saying it doesn't have to be the way it was before. We can tell it our own way. Susan sounds just like she did 24 years ago! There's a sense of maturity and experience that helps with the story telling. 

I had never really known Susan before. All I did was trail her for a week at the Shubert and she said "good luck". Fun Fact: She moved out of the Shubert with her black lab, Willa, and I moved in with my black lab, Audrey. And now we each have two girls. In fact my two girls are in the cast. One is a Silly Girl and another is a dancer in the show.

The Joyous Living: What has been your biggest directorial challenge thus far?
Yvette Lawrence: Working with a set with unknown variables. You don't always get what you are imaging so you adjust. While it's been challenging it's also really fun and you get to use your brain and redirect.

The Joyous Living: Many would say Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was the first family friendly Broadway musical. What would you say to parents who are debating taking their children to see the show?
Yvette Lawrence: Be prepared to fall in love with Beauty and the Beast all over again.

What a perfect way to wrap our interview. I can NOT wait to see this amazing cast and what magic Yvette Lawrence has whipped up for us with this limited production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. So be prepared to fall in love with the music and characters all over again and get your tickets fast because I can't imagine they will be around for much longer.

The cast of "Beauty and the Beast". Photo by Ed Krieger.
Tickets: $35-$89 at Ticketmaster
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.

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