“How can you read this? There are no pictures,” shouts Gaston, the antagonist of Walt Disney’s 1991 animated adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast." “Well, some people use their imagination,” replies Belle, the story's lead character and the love interest of both Gaston and the age-old stories protagonist simply known as “Beast."
Imagination is one of the key factors Savannah Stage Company will be bringing to their upcoming production of the fairy tale classic, said artistic director Jayme Tinti. “I think this performance will be unique specifically because of the imagination we’ve brought into it. Often what can happen with this show is that it becomes spectacle-driven. It becomes these humongous costumes, and moving castle set pieces, so we wanted to examine what happens when you strip away the spectacle of something, and what’s left there is a really amazing story that we get to tell through imaginative, action-driven theater.”
Now celebrating the last show of their seventh season with an internationally known children’s hit, Savannah Stage Company's endless devotion to thrilling audiences of all ages across the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire region is what has allowed them to thrive, according to Tinti.
“We moved here specifically to create Savannah Stage Company because we felt that there was a hole in the arts' world that our skill set could fill nicely," Tinti said. “At the time, there were very few people being paid for their work, which has changed now, but we also saw a niche in touring shows, which is still something we do that’s fundamentally important to our company and our approach to acting and theater in particular.”
“Most of the shows that we do, excluding 'Beauty and the Beast,' we bring to different nursing homes, schools, and libraries, for those folks who can’t come to us, which is one of the ways that we can fulfill our mission of providing accessible theater to all demographics.”
Get Savannah arts and culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and Dine newsletters While Savannah Stage Company will not be taking this show on the road, they’ve still kept the accessibility factor in mind, said Tinti, “I think the coolest thing we’re doing with this show is something we’ve never done before. We’re experimenting with being brave in our season of bravery and having a 'pay what its worth' performance. Meaning that when patrons come to that Sunday show on the 17th, they won’t purchase a ticket but rather, following the performance will be able to put a monetary value on what they just experienced. So, if the viewer felt like the show was worth 15 dollars, they give 15 dollars, if they thought it was worth more or less, than that’s what they give, and they let their money speak for them.”
The production will take place in the performance space of Service Brewing, separate from the spaces taproom. Patrons of legal age will be able to purchase beers prior to the show as well as during intermission, which can be brought into the performance space. “We’re really excited to partner with Service again,” said Tinti. “We’ve done a show there before and they’ve got an amazing mission and we love partnering with other organizations whose mission speaks to us.”
“I want the audience to take away the heart of the story with all of the spectacle removed. We thought it was important to widen the scope of the characters and breathe new life into roles that have been begging for new voices. I think there’s a lot more story in this production than is often allowed, so I want folks to walk away with a stronger sense of what this story is, not just a clouded vibe and nostalgia and spectacle,” Tinti added when asked what she wanted audiences to take away from the production.