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From Wytheville to France via ‘Beauty and the Beast’

I thought I was just indulging my ‘Trusty Secretary’ – my youngest daughter who has always filled the role of keeping my schedule half-way straight (which is far better than I usually do.) She is of late the aspiring singer, dancer, and actress. When I found out that “Beauty and the Beast” was the current production at the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theater, I made plans to compensate her faithful support and take her there. I thought I was just going to see a play. I didn’t realize that I was going from Wytheville to France.
Disney’s animated movie “Beauty and the Beast” came out about the same time my ‘trusty secretary’ made her debut into life as we now know it – give or take a few years. It’s since been one of my favorite of Disney’s stories because I like the fact that the Beast comes to his senses and makes amends by his selfless actions; that the villain, who chooses to stay villainous, dies by his own self-centered actions; that all of the innocent victims are redeemed from their difficulties imposed upon them; and that Belle and the Prince live happily ever after. I often think life should be like that – and sooner rather than later.

That being said, I guess I should have been prepared to be pulled in from the onset. The performance mirrored the movie, opening with the Prince demonstrating his selfishness by refusing to offer hospitality to an old woman in exchange for a rose. I pulled out my tissue and sobbed, since I knew what was coming and I hate it when people are unkind. Now, granted, all jerks should get real life lessons in being nice, but it is hard watching it happen. The old woman threw off her cloak to reveal her youthful beauty and strength as a pink ballerina enchantress, and the problems began. The cursed Prince was quickly exchanged for an impressive Beast, and the set neatly switched to introduce Belle and her provincial French town, including the other local jerk, the egotistical Gaston. Belle could have hardly been more perfect. Disney-perfect in features, wonderful and strong in voice, and right-on in movements and expressions, I knew she would win my heart and that of all of the Girl Scouts sitting behind me. The choreography got even better as it got more complicated. The production caught the feel of the breadth of the movie on the stage wonderfully. I can hardly overemphasize the fantastic choreography! Disney had an eraser then the animated movie was made, but this play was terrific in live time! This was the performance of a team of very talented individuals!

The castle set and the characters of the clock, the lamp, the dresser, the teakettle, and her son, Chip, were amazing. As you know from the movie, it all works out, Belle and the Beast share several long kisses, and Chip takes the final scene with his child-like spontaneity. I mopped my face and began the transition back to reality. Wow, was I in deep!

After the play, the actors gather in the anteroom to meet and greet the audience. The acting was so convincing, I resisted an urge to slap Gaston when I met him. I did shake his hand and commend him on an excellent performance of being an ace-#1-jerk. I’ll admit, after talking to him, I didn’t get the idea that it came naturally. He seemed a nice guy in reality. So was the Beast turned Prince. I caught the ‘Trusty Secretary’ rolling her eyes.

There was a happy majority of children in the audience. I didn’t personally greet Belle, since it was so much fun watching the Girl Scouts from Blacksburg gathering around her. I could almost feel their amazement at seeing a real Belle up close! I chatted with several of the Scouts later and the consensus between them, the Secretary, and myself was that this play is definitely better than the movie. Really. It’s simply dynamic. If you can take your child to see this one, you’ll likely agree. And you have until June 15 to do so. The next performance of the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theater will be Smokey Joe’s Café, a tribute to the Golden Age of Rock and Roll, starting June 19.

Kids interested in acting might be excited to learn that a theater class is offered this summer, led by George Bailey. There are also plans in the works for summer Ice Cream Performances in the outside garden, which are kid-oriented, about an hour in length, and reasonably priced. For more information, direct your call to the Dinner Theater.

Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre is easy to reach off I-81/77 at Exit 73 in Wytheville, Virginia. For more information or reservations, call 888-950-3382 or 276-223-0891 or visit their web site: www.wohlfahrthaus.com

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From Wytheville to France via ‘Beauty and the Beast’

I thought I was just indulging my ‘Trusty Secretary’ – my youngest daughter who has always filled the role of keeping my schedule half-way straight (which is far better than I usually do.) She is of late the aspiring singer, dancer, and actress. When I found out that “Beauty and the Beast” was the current production at the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theater, I made plans to compensate her faithful support and take her there. I thought I was just going to see a play. I didn’t realize that I was going from Wytheville to France.
Disney’s animated movie “Beauty and the Beast” came out about the same time my ‘trusty secretary’ made her debut into life as we now know it – give or take a few years. It’s since been one of my favorite of Disney’s stories because I like the fact that the Beast comes to his senses and makes amends by his selfless actions; that the villain, who chooses to stay villainous, dies by his own self-centered actions; that all of the innocent victims are redeemed from their difficulties imposed upon them; and that Belle and the Prince live happily ever after. I often think life should be like that – and sooner rather than later.

That being said, I guess I should have been prepared to be pulled in from the onset. The performance mirrored the movie, opening with the Prince demonstrating his selfishness by refusing to offer hospitality to an old woman in exchange for a rose. I pulled out my tissue and sobbed, since I knew what was coming and I hate it when people are unkind. Now, granted, all jerks should get real life lessons in being nice, but it is hard watching it happen. The old woman threw off her cloak to reveal her youthful beauty and strength as a pink ballerina enchantress, and the problems began. The cursed Prince was quickly exchanged for an impressive Beast, and the set neatly switched to introduce Belle and her provincial French town, including the other local jerk, the egotistical Gaston. Belle could have hardly been more perfect. Disney-perfect in features, wonderful and strong in voice, and right-on in movements and expressions, I knew she would win my heart and that of all of the Girl Scouts sitting behind me. The choreography got even better as it got more complicated. The production caught the feel of the breadth of the movie on the stage wonderfully. I can hardly overemphasize the fantastic choreography! Disney had an eraser then the animated movie was made, but this play was terrific in live time! This was the performance of a team of very talented individuals!

The castle set and the characters of the clock, the lamp, the dresser, the teakettle, and her son, Chip, were amazing. As you know from the movie, it all works out, Belle and the Beast share several long kisses, and Chip takes the final scene with his child-like spontaneity. I mopped my face and began the transition back to reality. Wow, was I in deep!

After the play, the actors gather in the anteroom to meet and greet the audience. The acting was so convincing, I resisted an urge to slap Gaston when I met him. I did shake his hand and commend him on an excellent performance of being an ace-#1-jerk. I’ll admit, after talking to him, I didn’t get the idea that it came naturally. He seemed a nice guy in reality. So was the Beast turned Prince. I caught the ‘Trusty Secretary’ rolling her eyes.

There was a happy majority of children in the audience. I didn’t personally greet Belle, since it was so much fun watching the Girl Scouts from Blacksburg gathering around her. I could almost feel their amazement at seeing a real Belle up close! I chatted with several of the Scouts later and the consensus between them, the Secretary, and myself was that this play is definitely better than the movie. Really. It’s simply dynamic. If you can take your child to see this one, you’ll likely agree. And you have until June 15 to do so. The next performance of the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theater will be Smokey Joe’s Café, a tribute to the Golden Age of Rock and Roll, starting June 19.

Kids interested in acting might be excited to learn that a theater class is offered this summer, led by George Bailey. There are also plans in the works for summer Ice Cream Performances in the outside garden, which are kid-oriented, about an hour in length, and reasonably priced. For more information, direct your call to the Dinner Theater.

Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre is easy to reach off I-81/77 at Exit 73 in Wytheville, Virginia. For more information or reservations, call 888-950-3382 or 276-223-0891 or visit their web site: www.wohlfahrthaus.com

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