PUBLISHED: 4:42 PM on Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Juneau Lyric Opera presents 'Beauty and The Beast'
Coming up in March, Juneau Lyric Opera presents Disney's famous Broadway adaptation of their 1991 award-winning motion picture. Inspired from a story first told by Jean Cocteau's 1946 film "La Belle et la B?te," this stage version of Beauty and the Beast was produced by Robert W. McTyre for Walt Disney Theatrical Productions. The Oscar-winning score by composer Alan Menken and the late lyricist Howard Ashman was not only expanded by Menken, but lyricist Tim Rice added several new songs for the Broadway version. Author Linda Woolverton adapted her work into this new stage play.

JLO's Beauty and the Beast is produced by Alan Davis, directed by John Longenbaugh with musical direction by Sally Smith and orchestral direction by Todd Hunt. Becky Engstrom designed the choreography for this production. Juneauites will find their favorite singers in the cast, including soprano Kathleen Wayne, tenors Brett Crawford and Jay Query, baritones Philippe Damerval and last year's Figaro extraordinaire David Miller, but will also enjoy Lisa Ray in her debut as Belle as well as numerous talented singers and dancers from within the community. Mark Kratz, from Philadelphia, in the role of the Beast, will be the only out-of-towner for this production.

John Longenbaugh, originally from Sitka, did a production with JLO in 88-89 (Kismet). He received a directing degree in London, and directed shows in London for a couple of years. Returning to Seattle in the early 90's, he founded his own production company called Ursa Major and directed numerous shows in the past 12 years. He is a theatre critic and columnist for the Seattle Weekly. Most recently he directed Jesus Christ Superstar. He concentrates mostly on contemporary comedies, although he has been seen directing Shakespeare and Webster (though it is unknown whether he would admit to it). When asked about this particular production, he replied "I have been very impressed with the producer, and excited about working with the designers, who all have very original and different ideas."

Boys and girls of all ages know this French fairy tale where a young woman who stands out from the provincial crowd is brought into a spellbound castle headed by a loathsome beast. In time, she learns to transcend this repulsive guise along with her own childhood dreams, and when true love is born despite the pressures of their social environment, the spell is broken and the Beast is restored to his true form as a handsome prince. He and Belle live happily ever after.

Everyone, especially parents with children, are cordially encouraged to book their tickets early to what promises to be one of JLO's most community-friendly and entertaining productions, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 9-10 and March 16-17, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 11, all at the High School Auditorium. Tickets available at Hearthside or at the door.