Backstage

Beauty and the Beast News
September 11, 2010

Posted by: Ross Petty

With eager anticipation, and a haughty toss of my wild mane……I’m proud to announce our 15th anniversary season at the Elgin Theatre! 15 years…..Justin Bieber was just a gleam in his father’s eye…. but we obviously struck a responsive chord with you… our faithful audience, and I’m happy to say that our Ontario family tradition is happily ensconced at Yonge and Queen Streets, and has evolved into a must-see entertainment over the winter holidays.

Beauty and the Beast is a world premiere and we’re excited to add the title to our eclectic list of fractured fairy tales that find their origin in English Pantomime. To the uninitiated….no, this is not a tribute to Marcel Marceau…..quite the contrary. Our productions are filled with a cacophony of sound, over-the-top acting, wonderful singing, exuberant dancing, brilliant ad libs, and the sweetest sound of all…..the audience jeering at my every entrance. Yes my friends…..booing season is fast approaching.

And what a cast! Melissa O’Neil is indeed beautiful and Jake Epstein is an incredible hunk…even as a hulk. Melissa knocked us out with her gorgeous voice…..we first heard that powerful instrument when she won Canadian Idol in 2005, but her growth as an artist since then is remarkable. And Jake was so terrific as Cinderella’s Prince in 2008, that we’re delighted that he’s joining us again this year to showcase his animalistic tendencies.

It seems that if you’re named Jake, you have a certain captivating effect on the female population. Jake Simons played the seductive lead role of Johnny in the Mirvish production of Dirty Dancing at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and he’s with us this year as the very debonair Antonio, sidekick to the Beast. Two Jakes…..double your pleasure!

Eddie Glen is the lovable red head who has appeared in more of my shows than any other performer. He’s a true triple threat…..actor, singer, dancer…..and one of the funniest guys you’d ever want to share a stage with.

Ross Petty and Scott ThompsonAre you fans of The Kids in the Hall? Probably one of the most successful comedy troupes to have originated in this country, and I’m really happy to have Scott Thompson onside as Beauty’s guardian. The Kids are known to have spent a lot of time playing women on their CBC-TV series, and Scott in a dress is like a duck to water. One of my favorite TV memories of Scott was as a regular on The Larry Sanders Show, playing opposite Gary Shandling.

Eddie GlenOur creative brain trust is once again in place to lead us through the silliness, with Ted Dykstra directing his 6th production. Besides being one of Canada’s finest actors, and a creator of the brilliant theatre piece Two Pianos Four Hands, Ted’s directing is taking focus, as witness his staging last year of the iconic Billy Bishop Goes to War as well as Jitters for Soulpepper Theatre.

Tracey Flye, after great success choreographing the two major musical hits for Stratford this summer…..Kiss Me Kate and Evita, returns to the Elgin for her 10th year of merriment.

Mark Camilleri, probably Canada’s busiest music director, is back for a second season with us. Mark has been the conductor for The Canadian Tenors as well as CBC-TV’s Triple Threat, and was the Associate Music Director for the Mirvish production of Mamma Mia.

We have brand new script writers for Beauty and the Beast…Lorna Wright and Nicholas Hune-Brown. They’re so young that when we began this madness at the Elgin in 1996, they were brought to the theatre by their parents…in strollers. How old does that make me feel!

OK folks…..start getting your vocal cords in shape! November is just around the corner….and I can’t wait to hear you roar when I make my first entrance!