Courtesy Avanlea Thompson Photography
‘Beauty and the Beast’
Annual musical by Peninsula Association of Performing Artists at Fort Columbia Theater, Chinook.
Final performances, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, Saturday, Aug. 4, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5.
Tickets are $18-$23, or $7.50-$12.50 for children, available online at www.papatheater.com/tickets, at Okie’s Sentry Market in Ocean Park, or by calling Penny Ripley at 360-836-4448.
A Discover Pass is not needed to attend the show, which is in a Washington State Park.
There are just three opportunities to catch one of our region’s most sparkling local theater productions in recent years.
“Beauty and the Beast” is being staged this summer by the Peninsula Association of Performing Artists, an all-volunteer troupe based on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula.
It plays at the Fort Columbia Theater just east of Chinook on Friday and Saturday nights with a final matinee Sunday.
To perform the musical, director Brooke Flood recruited a cast of 30. Remarkably, for many, it is their first foray into amateur acting.
The troupe has about a decade of successful productions under its belt, but none demanding the scale of this one. Even “Fiddler on the Roof” which leaders chose to reprise because it was so popular, cannot match the scope of “Beast.”
Talents onstage have been matched by hard work behind the scenes. The show provided Angela Grote, PAPA’s creative costume designer, and her crew with their biggest challenges. When the prince character is magically turned into a beast, his servants are transformed into household objects like tea cups, candles and even wardrobes. Several heavy costumes were borrowed from a school in California and shipped north by truck especially for the show.
An early start
This project is the brainchild of Flood, a talented woman who began taking piano lessons from longtime PAPA director Barbara Poulshock when she was six. Her mother, Cindy Flood, is a former Los Angeles dance teacher who founded the group and serves on its board. She plays Mrs. Potts, a charming supporting role which was voiced by Angela Lansbury in the Disney movie on which the stage musical is based.
A product of Ilwaco schools and Clatsop Community College, Brooke Flood honed her craft at George Fox College in Newburg, Ore., savoring the private Christian college’s unusually edgy drama curriculum. She has returned to the community to lend her talents to PAPA while harboring dreams some day of a professional career in the performing arts.
Knowing that, it is fun to reflect that Angus Bowmer, the driving force behind the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, made his start in Chinook — in the school barely a mile from where Flood’s troupe is performing.
Another plus is the collaboration with Fort Columbia State Park. The 593-acre facility played a role in the region’s history as a small part of the expansive Army coastal defense system at the mouth of the Columbia River.
The theater building was sensitively restored by Washington State Parks, and now is among the agency’s assets most appreciated by local residents. Visitors might enjoy taking time before or after a play to stroll around the fort, which offers glorious views of the estuary.
“Beauty and the Beast” is based on an ancient French fairytale, but offers timely lessons about acceptance. Angry villagers sing, “The Mob Song” — “We don’t like what we don’t understand, and in fact it scares us. … Let’s kill the beast!”
To offset this, the upbeat director Flood shared a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. with her cast: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Whether you attend for the message, the merriment, or the sheer spectacle, “Beauty and the Beast” is a remarkable achievement in community theater. We fully predict anyone who attends the final three shows will be entertained if not uplifted.