The fall arts season is in full swing, with performance options for this week including a classic Disney musical, a slate of promising new shows under development, and a family-friendly orchestra concert benefiting local arts education. For many more events and happenings, check out almanacnews.com/calendar.
Palo Alto Players this month tells a "tale as old as time" with its production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," based on the animated film and featuring the original Alan Menken/Howard Ashman songs from the movie (including "Be Our Guest" and the title song) as well as additional numbers by Menken and lyricist Tim Rice. The fairytale involves a bookish beauty who longs for adventure; a cursed prince; a castle full of enchanted servants-turned-housewares; a villainous village hunk; and an unlikely romance.
Palo Alto Players' Artistic Director Patrick Klein directs, with Sam Mills starring as Belle and Michael D. Reed as the titular Beast, among the cast of 24 actors.
"It's an enchanting and timeless story that most of us have grown up with; it never fails to endear, and offers boundless opportunities for creativity," Klein said in a press release.
The family-friendly show (for ages 5 and up) runs Nov. 4-20, with performances on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Special events include an ASL-interpreted performance on Friday, Nov. 18, which is also apparently "National Princess Day." Audiences are invited to come to the show dressed up as their favorite princess.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, the Magical Bridge Foundation is sponsoring a 2 p.m. performance suitable for all ages and abilities. According to Palo Alto Players' website, the special matinee will include Magical Bridge Kindness Ambassadors and Palo Alto Players ushers offering assistance as needed; an activity area in the lobby for those needing a break during the show; limited seating to allow for space and movement needs; no shushing; refreshments provided; and an end-of-show singalong.
Performances are held at Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Tickets are $10-$60. More information is available at paplayers.org.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's annual New Works Festival, now in its 19th year, is always one of the local theater scene's highlights — a chance to catch future masterpieces while they're still in the workshop stages and to learn about the fledgling productions directly from the artists creating them. After two years of pandemic-induced virtual events, the festival returns to an in-person format Nov. 6-13, showcasing a musical and two plays.
Rather than its usual home base in Palo Alto, the festival will be held at Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga, in partnership with Montalvo's Lucas Artists Residency Program, which provides accommodation for festival artists to live and work.
This year's New Works lineup includes readings of the musical "Hart Island," by Danny Haengil Larsen and Michelle Elliott, which takes place at the site of a burial ground on an island in New York City's East River where unmarked graves house the remains of the poor and the unknown. The musical tells the story of the touching relationship that develops between an immigrant searching for her child and an inmate working on the burial crew.
Christopher Chen's "The Motion" is a play centered on the questions of "How do we value a meaningful life?" and "What does it mean to be human?" which is posed as a scholarly debate on animal rights that takes some surprising turns.
In "Words We Believe," written by Rehana Lew Mirza, a California teenager is seeking answers regarding the mysterious disappearance of her best friend.
"These plays are exhilarating in their explorations of the human condition and their examining of the things that divide us and those that connect us to one another," TheatreWorks' Artistic Associate and Director of New Works Giovanna Sardelli said in a press release.
"Hart Island" will be presented Nov. 6, 10 and 13 at 7 p.m.. "The Motion" will be presented Nov. 6 and 13 at 3 p.m. "Words We Believe" will be presented Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 13 at noon. Festival passes are $48 and single tickets are $20. More information is available at theatreworks.org.
The Googler Orchestra, a symphony orchestra made up of Alphabet employees, interns and associates that formed in 2016, will perform a family-friendly concert to benefit the nonprofit Music for Minors on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 4 p.m. at Gunn High School's Spangenberg Theater, 780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto.
The 90-minute concert, which is recommended for audiences ages 5 and up, will feature a performance of "The Orchestra Games," which introduces children to the instruments of the orchestra in the style of the Olympic Games, complete with competing "teams" (the various orchestra sections), narrated by vocalist Brian Hinman. Selections from "Carmen" will also be performed.
Music for Minors is an organization that brings music education to local elementary students. Proceeds from the event will go toward funding scholarships for under-resourced schools. Tickets are $10-$25. More information is available at googlerorchestra.com and mfm.org.
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