Beauty and The Beast - Contra Costa Musical Theater Company Comedy On Cue - in Concord Gun Shy - Role Players Ensemble Theatre

The Beast is not asleep in Walnut Creek

In Walnut Creek in the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, the Contra Costa Musical Theater Company is presenting an absolutely exquisite production of Walt Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, now through May 13th. Once again, Tim Rice contributes lyrics to this Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice production.

Director Scott Denison, along with musical director, Mark Hanson and Choreographer Jennifer Denison Perry have created a family theatrical production that is thrilling audiences and that will be remembered for a long time. Once again, the costumers, Melissa Anne Paterson and Michael Borg have delivered designs that have contributed in large part to this show’s success.

Nothing could contribute more to this production than the brilliant cast, the beautiful voices and the overall production team that has brought this wonderful show to fruition. The very attractive Megan Gallup plays Belle, the heroine, exceptionally well. She portrays this character with great comic and romantic style and has a beautiful voice. Nephi Speer, who plays the Beast, does it so well that I have to rave about his choice by the director for this role. I first saw Nephi locally in CTA Crossroad’s Theater’s wonderful musical about Johnny Mercer’s music, “Moon River”, and was blown away at that time. I am sure you will long remember this young man and hope to see him in other productions.

The supporting roles of Scott Strain (as Cogsworth, the clock) Joshua Hollister (as Gaston, the ego-centered villain), Joel Roster (as Lefou, Gaston’s friend and worshiper), Michael McCarty (as Lumiere, the candelabra-man), Jessica Magers-Rankin (as Mrs. Potts), Tiffany-Marie Austin (as Babette, the maid), Jeanine Perasso (as the wardrobe), Tom Flynn (Belle’s father, Maurice) and Grant Strain (as Chip, the tea-cup) were equally superb. There are far too many fine contributing talents to name in this article due to space restrictions, but the over-all production is a winner from every aspect.

This classic fairy-tale is about a young woman who meets a prince bewitched and turned into a beast, and who falls in love with him despite his outward appearance and bestial qualities. This is another wonderful family show that you ought to see, even if your children are grown. Take the kids and grandkids, you and they will love it! It is extremely funny, light-hearted and up-beat, with superb voices and orchestration.

Beauty and the Beast plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m., and one Sunday matinee on April 16th at 3 p.m., continuing now through May 13th. The Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts is located at 1601 Civic Drive in Walnut Creek. Call (925) 943-7469 (SHOW) or the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts web-site at for ticket and reservation information or visit the Contra Costa Musical Theatre web-site for more information at
Speaking of other entertainment opportunities, if you enjoy stand-up comedy, the “Cue Productions” cabaret and recording studio venue at 1835 Colfax Street in Concord is hosting weekly stand-up comedy shows that are highly entertaining and at $5 per person, downright inexpensive as well. Carolè Acunia, the show hostess, is bringing a diverse group of comics from the San Francisco Comedy College to Concord weekly for your entertainment. The seating is general seating, cabaret table style, with beer, wine and sodas available and purchased separately. The atmosphere is laid back and casual. Also, there is plenty of free parking behind the facility. Tickets may be purchased at the door. For more information, visit their website at
Role up another evening of excellent entertainment at the Role Players Ensemble Theatre with their current production of Richard Dresser’s dark comedy about love, divorce and marriage, in Gun Shy. Director Scott Fryer is presenting an absolutely terrific cast that has captured what I feel without question, is the true essence of the author’s intent.

In this humorous and poignant comedy, four people, two of whom are divorced and the other two are their respective rebound partners, are discovering how difficult it is to enter new relationships when they are still carrying around old baggage, old wounds and even, old love. New relationships are hard enough, but our couples have found that new toads have warts as well as the old toads. This comedy quickly demonstrates how we sometimes go from the frying pan into the soup, trying to get away from the perceived problems in one relationship and into a new and hopefully, better one.

Evie and Duncan are a recently divorced couple who have set out to find new relationships to validate their self-worth. Evie (Heidi Hooker) has met a handsome single coffee sales manager by the name of Carter (Irakli Tabidze). His boss calls him much more than a simple success, he calls him a visionary. Evie wants more than just a sexual change, she wants someone who is devoted to her every wish, every question, and every need for affirmation. She even wants marriage and another child as well. It is all more than Carter can grasp. He feels love and frustration as Evie demands more and more attention.

On the other hand, Evies’ ex, Duncan, has more than his share of hang-ups as he is totally frustrated with his inability to communicate with his ex-wife. He, like Evie, is still seeking to prove that there is nothing wrong with him. Duncan (Robin Abbott) owns a local moving company and he is moving right along with the very lovely Caitlin (Leslie Noel), who is significantly younger than Duncan’s former wife, Evie. Caitlin is not really looking forward to a long term commitment and children. In fact, she preferred the relationship they had, when they were just having an affair while Duncan was still married to Evie.

Ah yes, the wicked webs we weave! Somehow, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence - - that is, until one starts to graze on the other side of the fence.

The first act is a series of vignettes from these new couples’s lives which sets us up for the big showdown in the second act, when both couples end up snowbound in New England where they have gathered to “share” a birthday with Evie and Duncan’s son (who is supposed to be coming home from boarding school for the event). With child custody issues looming, Evie’s new found pregnancy, Caitlin’s gun-toting escapade, and everybody being just a bit “Gun Shy”, the comedy comes fast and furious.

This is a very funny show with some terrific acting and great direction. Each actor brings his character to full fruition allowing you to really understand each one. Irakli is outrageously funny as he spurts profanities about his former cheating wife in a brief tourette’s staccato on several occasions. Caitlin is sweetly endearing as she clearly states her true emotional motive for engaging in this relationship with Duncan. Both Duncan and Evie are husband an wife in real life, and with that grounding, they bring a genuineness to their characterization that is believable and charming, without being alarming. Clarke Feusier plays a number of minor characters, such as a waiter, nurse, and paramedic, very well.

Every aspect of this show is well done, from costumes by Chantal Guyette, to set design by Diane McRice, stage management by Samantha Fryer and lighting by David Lam. This very enjoyable comedy plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., now through May 13th. The Village Theatre is located at 233 Front Street in Danville. Ticket prices range from $13 to $22 and there is free parking available next to the theater or on the street nearby. Call (925) 314-3463 for ticket and reservation information or visit their website at and checkout Gun Shy.