A Song as Old as Time

Danny and Linda Friedman decided to make a party last Sunday–they invited friends to have a picnic dinner and see a show at the Woodminster Theater in Oakland.  Maybe because I’ve known Linda since the 7th grade, I made the list.  Gail was invited too, but she had too much fun this afternoon when  great-grandson Silas came to brunch, trailing his entire entourage of parents, grand-parents and friends.

(Silas isn’t much of a guest since all he eats is the homemade his mom makes.  We still went through almost 2 dozen eggs, 2 pounds of bacon, many packages of fruit, 2 pounds of sausage and two packages of English muffins.  Gail had a right to be worn out.)

Arriving early at the amphitheater, we scored a nice picnic table out of the glaring sun.  It was another hot day; none of us need the coats/sweaters/sweatshirts we had reflexively packed.

Danny and Linda provided the picnic, and did a spectacular job, to the extent of bringing real plates.  I was impressed.

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Grapes and brie for a starter.

We had two kinds of roasted chicken, fruit salad, regular salad, beets, mac and cheese, the best loaf of store-bought bread I’ve ever had (Whole Foods rosemary and sea salt ciabatta), flavored sparkly water, diet Coke (which all good hosts provide), red wine, white wine, brownies Danny made and raspberry sorbet.  It was a feast.

Stuffed to the gills, we staggered down the stairs to our seats.  Woodminster is an outdoor stadium type theater, with steeply banked seats facing the setting sun and a broad stage built to hold large casts in spectacular performances.

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The view from our picnic table, before the theater filled up.

Beauty and the Beast is not exactly heavy theater, but it’s enjoyable and entertaining. There were many children in the audience, including a few young girls in princess dresses.  What a great way to introduce the theater to your kids/grandkids.

This production has a cast of over 40 members, mostly talented volunteers.  There were 8 paid Equity members,  I was surprised to see that the female lead, Jennifer Alexis Mitchell, is not an Equity member although she is clearly a working professional who has played Snow White in Beach Blanket Babylon.

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With so many children in the audience, it seemed acceptable and appropriate to boo the villain and cheer the hero, ooh and aah at the lush and lavish costumes and magnificent production numbers.  The evening turned magical with the sky darkening, bringing out the colors of the stage.

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Late in the second act, the curse is lifted and the Beast turns into a handsome prince–and the actor. Adam Maggio,  who has been trapped in a huge, ugly mask is set free to win the hearts of the audience with his good look and huge, deep voice.

The villains are vanquished, the beautiful girl marries the handsome prince, the household servants are released from their spells and everyone lives happily ever after.  We all went home with a smile on our faces and a warm feeling in our tummies from the great picnic.  Thanks, Danny and Linda.

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