Thoroughly Modern Productions is not screwing around. Each successive production I have seen from David DaCosta and company has increased in scale and scope ten-fold. Last year's The Wizard of Oz featured so many moving parts, from dancing monkey children to melting witches, it seemed like DaCosta had reached a ceiling on what could be pulled off on the Central Oregon stage.
But then I went to Terpsichorean Dance Studio to watch a rehearsal of Beauty and the Beast and realized that to assume what the size and scale of a local show can be is futile and short-sighted. The cast is bigger, the music more complex and the singing more dynamic and massive.
As I walked into Terp, I was greeted by a dozen dancing plates singing "Be Our Guest" and children running up and down the halls laughing maniacally.
"It's always been the plan to do two shows a year in this format," DaCosta says. "Once in the winter and once in the summer. We've had four more weeks of rehearsal time than we did for Oz and that's been huge for us from a production standpoint. This is a big, big show."
From the hilarious and perfectly pitched performance of Ryan Klontz as Gaston, to Scott Michaelsen's assured musical direction and Dakota Weeda's multi-layered choreography, Beauty and the Beast is nothing if not deep of bench. Even with all of the moving pieces working at maximum efficiency, the production is not without its hurdles. "The biggest challenge is definitely trying to stay true to the essence of Disney, yet at the same time making it our own," DaCosta says. "People tend to think that putting on this type of show is easy from a creative sense. In fact, to create something that so many people know on such an intimate level requires an incredible degree of imagination mixed with discipline."
DaCosta and company seem to have found that sweet spot. When the opening theme from Beauty and the Beast came tumbling from the orchestra, I felt the recognition from the Disney classic I grew up with, but it had something new on its mind. Something Thoroughly Modern.
Beauty and the Beast
Runs February 12-22
7:30 pm Fridays & Saturdays, 3 pm Sundays
Summit High School
2855 NW Clearwater Dr.