Production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at Palmer this weekend

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Autographed by cast members, several ‘Beauty and the Beast’ posters will be auctioned off. The production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Palmer Performing Arts Center in Brawley.

BRAWLEY — The North County Coalition for the Arts (NoCCA) is presenting its production of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ featuring Ooh La La Dance & Studios, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Palmer Performing Arts Center in Brawley.

The local cast and crew of about 100 has been rehearsing over the past few months to fine tune the performance. The Desert Review was able to catch up with a few of them to get their take on the mammoth production at a recent rehearsal.

“I think it’s going to be over the top,” said cast member and NoCCA board member Larry Fleming. “I think it’s going to be one of the greatest performances, if not the greatest performance ever witnessed in Palmer. To me, it’s amazing since being on NoCCA’s board since its inception 21 years ago, and president for the first 17 years, I’ve seen lots of plays and been involved as an actor. It’s amazing how every year a production is put on, how people with really good talent just come out of the woodwork and are willing to put in the long, long hours. With leadership like Sara Correa, Lisa Smelser, Esteban Corona as musical director, and the people behind the scenes, it’s just amazing how this all comes together. I really do think this is going to be a great production.”

“This is going to be pretty spectacular,” said Luke Hamby, a local contractor and actor/musician in a lead role. “We have done some fun musicals in the past. This one has some darker themes in it. I think there is potential for quite a show, because there are lot of dance numbers, a lot of people on the stage, a lot of kids, which always brings in a lot of people. Personally, I always enjoy working with the cast and crew. You build up a camaraderie over the months you work on the play. I can use what I do during the day, remodeling and building; I bring that here to help out with the sets. That’s fun for me. I enjoy helping out where I can.”

“As everyone learns the songs, it gets better and better,” continued Hamby. “People have more fun with it and they get more comfortable in their roles to explore the stage. The story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ has an underlying theme of redemption and forgiveness. We have the potential of treating people poorly. There’s a beast within all of us. In the story, there is a transformation that takes place that is caused by love, unconditional love. In this case, he was entirely unlovable, physically and emotionally. It took someone who could see past that, to see there is something redeemable. It’s a theme that’s true in real life as well. Each of us has this beast that has to be tamed and transformed into something wonderful. Personally, I feel that is the love of God that would transform us.”

“I’m really excited about ‘Beauty and the Beast’,” said Megan Strahm, a local actress in a lead role. “I think it’s going to be one of our best shows because of the fact that everybody loves the story so much. There’s the magic of the music, the costumes, the lighting. For me personally, it’s always been a dream to play the role of Belle. She was my favorite princess. To have the chance to come back to Palmer and to play this role means a lot.”

“I think this is the most amazing cast and crew that I could possibly have,” said Sara Correa, director of the production. “They have come out and given 110 percent at every single rehearsal. When we open, they will give 1,000 percent. I’m so excited to see the lights, the action, everything happen. They have worked really hard. I believe in them and I know they are going to be great. I know that is going to relate to the audience, too. I’m very proud of them. We have been very blessed to have all of this talent drop into our laps.”

‘Beauty and the Beast’ will be performed Friday at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.