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A splendid 'Beauty and the Beast' proves why Casa 0101 deserves a fairy-tale ending

A splendid 'Beauty and the Beast' proves why Casa 0101 deserves a fairy-tale ending
Samantha M. Lawrence as Belle and Omar Mata as the Beast lead a strong cast in Casa 0101's production of "Beauty and the Beast." (Ed Krieger)

Casa 0101 in Boyle Heights is waging a fundraising battle to keep its doors open. Judging by its splendid “Beauty and the Beast” running through June, it would be a tragedy for the neighborhood — and for the larger theater community — if this valiant institution were to be shuttered.

A reprise of a production mounted earlier in the year co-produced by Casa 0101 and TNH Productions, this show is the Disney version, redux. It may not have the well-financed bells and whistles of Broadway, but it rings and toots tunefully throughout an amazingly well-mounted show that is remarkable, considering the constraints of space and budget.

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The versatile sets have been constructed from scratch by scenic designer Marco De Leon. Vincent A. Sanchez, who oversees the excellent sound design, contributes the splendid rear projections. Abel Alvarado’s costume design does feature a few rentals, but the whimsical ensembles are also mostly from scratch. Lighting designer Sohail e. Najafi completes the lavish picture, heavy on the spot lighting for those key moments, of which there are plenty.

Rigo Tejeda directs more than two dozen performers (many of whom have been alternately cast) with a combination of military efficiency and sheer brio. Musical director Caroline Benzon oversees the blissful assemblage of singers, while choreographer Tania Possick marshals the troops ingeniously in a limited space.

Mata, Lawrence and Jeremy Saje as Cogsworth in the musical stage adaptation of Disney's animated movie.
Mata, Lawrence and Jeremy Saje as Cogsworth in the musical stage adaptation of Disney's animated movie. (Ed Krieger)

As the Beast, authoritative Omar Mata takes pride of place among this strong cast, ably seconded by Samantha M. Lawrence as Belle. Marco Infante’s Gaston, Daniel Sugimoto’s Lumiere, Jeremy Saje’s Cogsworth and Maxwell Peters as a supremely acrobatic LeFou all shine. Also worthy of mention are Jacqueline Schofield, giving her last performance at the matinee I attended, Daniela Santi, Luis Marquez, Abbe Drake, Matthew Noah and Bowie Bundlie, whose adorableness factor as Chip is off the charts.

Under Tejeda’s sure hand, the cast displays a uniformly impressive verve that never falters. This “Beauty” deserves to be seen — as this theater deserves to be supported.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

‘Beauty and the Beast’

Where: Casa 0101, 2102 E. 1st St., L.A.

When: 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m.Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, through July 1; additional performance 8 p.m. June 7

Tickets: $25-$40

Information: (323) 263-7684, www.casa0101.org

Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

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