‘Beauty and the Beast’ at Schuster
By Brian P. Sharp
Photo: “Beauty and the Beast” will be performed at the Schuster Center May 27 through June 1; photo: Amy Boyle
This is a romantic piece of theatre. The musical is based on the Academy Award-winning animated file. The show is simply something that must be experienced, and has been seen by over 35 million people. The characters are simply unforgettable, the set is amazing, the costumes are simply divine. Of course, there are can’t-miss musical favorites like “Be Our Guest.”
I had the chance to speak to James May, who plays Cogsworth – the British Butler, or Majordomo.
Cogsworth is uptight, orderly, timely and straight-forward. Yet, he is still likeable. May loves the role, and said he has fun on stage every night.
May grew up with the film, so he feels he really knows the heart of the story. He drew the connection between the beast and Edward Scissorhands – both of whom are judged for how they appear, until someone learns about their heart.
“This is a touching, universal story,” May said.
May grew up in southern California and decided to pursue a biology degree there, though there were many times he wondered, “what am I doing?” Then, May had an epiphany moment. While in school, a friend encouraged him to come to Colorado to audition for the theatre program.
Since then, May has been lucky. He had the chance to perform in some great New York and Los Angeles showcases, and then managed to book some regional theatre in L.A.
Then, he learned auditions for “Beauty and the Beast” were being held in Southern California. May did some understudy work and some workshops in the Pasadena area. Even though there have been many great roles in regional theatre, May said, “Cogsworth is the sweet spot.”
May wasn’t sure he was right for the role – even though he is familiar with character acting.
This production doesn’t adhere to the stereotypes. The artistic team was looking for people that had the essence of the character. May has been touring with the company since November of 2011.
May is the longest-running cast member. While trying to figure out how to remember all of the great cities the cast visits, his brother had an excellent idea. While he was clocking hours in the show, he could find clocks that represented each city.
May said he has been in about 170 cities – and has photos of about 140 clocks. I wonder what clock will be his muse while in Dayton?
“Beauty and the Beast” speaks to so many issues that are relevant today. Being misunderstood is something to which all of us can relate. Even Belle doesn’t fit in – and seems to only want her own way. Isn’t it always better to be loved for who you are? Who are we to think we can judge someone else’s life? Unfortunately, the bullying demonstrated in this classic show is still alive every day in our world. Even when life hands us tough battles – like being turned into a beast – we can still love and be loved. Sometimes we forget those things.
“Beauty and the Beast” is a perfect show for all ages. School is coming to a close, students are graduating. This is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the end of the school year, or to celebrate graduation. If nothing else, it’s just a perfect excuse for a night out with great theatre – and no one does it like Disney! Don’t miss out on this great opportunity for a night of feel-good theatre. And no, this is not just a show for kids. There is something in this show for every one of us.
The Victoria Theatre Association presents “Beauty and the Beast” Tuesday, May 27 through Sunday, June 1 at the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. For tickets, please call the box offfice at 937.228.3630 or visit ticketcenterstange.com. For more information, please call 937.228.7591 or visit victoriatheatre.com.
Reach DCP theatre critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com.