Laredo Little Theater’s Beauty and the Beast Jr.: Be Their Guest

IMG_5575Full disclosure: When the proposition of attending the Laredo Little Theater‘s adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was presented, excitement was not part of the initial reaction. I had known of the theater for decades but had never paid enough attention to consider it a viable entertainment option in Laredo. Honestly, I’ve never thought of Laredo, Texas as a hub for “theatrical” talent. Still, the kids wanted to see it and Dad was going to deliver.

Upon arriving, I was a bit concerned as the lobby, with its mild, stale odor, was hot and humid. Considering the dated look of the structure, I wondered if the air-conditioning/ventilation system was also well past its expiration date. Wrong. The theater area itself smelled fresh and the temperature was very comfortable, enhancing the theater’s nostalgic charm. Once I located our seats, the waiting game began.

The crowd shuffled in and soon, the place was packed with a variety of faces of all ages. From the young to the elderly, there was a growing electricity in the atmosphere and, I must admit, it got me excited. By the time the lights went down and our host hit the stage promptly at 8:00pm, I was ready for the experience.

The performance began and I was quickly captivated. The opening scene was clean, audible and convincingly acted. One by one, the key players came into focus: Princess Belle (Janette Tijerina) quickly showcased her beautiful vocals and the villainous Gaston (Mark Astudillo) was comically brutish with brawny charisma. Cheering and placating Gaston with poise and quick wit was Gaston’s quintessential sidekick Lefou (Ricky Hernandez Jr.). The kid also showcased solid singing prowess. All of the opening performers brought key talents that elevated the story.

The cast introduction continued into the castle scene. The crowd was delighted to see the adaptions of the half-man, half-clock Cogsworth (Mario Rojas), Lumiere (Rogelio Huerta Paz) with his candlestick hands, Mrs. Potts (Richelle Garcia) a tea-offering pot, and her charming son Chip (Ben Garcia), the human cup. The Beast (Alberto Cruz Jr.) was as angry as one would expect him to be, considering his situation.

05cb28c8aec6c908e8a69ff2e8b3355f_9nt9All of the cast members showed great vocal range and competent stage acumen. From my vantage point, the night belonged to Belle, Gaston, Cogsworth and Lumiere. Each of those thespians delivered with comedic timing, vocal grace and fluid movement. Cogsworth and Lumiere were extremely entertaining and kept the plot lively even when the storyline hit low points.

This is not to say that the other actors of this play were lacking brilliance. Mrs. Potts, Beast, the chorus and all of the supporting cast participants delivered dazzling performances. The “wolf” dancers were the epitome of elegance and power wrapped into one. The play kept a solid pace and climaxed at the right time. It was as enchanting as it was surprising.

As the show came to an end and those on the dais took their final bows, I realized that well over an hour had gone by and not once did I feel regret for having been present. The fact is, the only regret that entered my mind that night was that of a person who had been closed-minded by the potential of local acting talent. This is a mistake that has been gladly corrected. Now, I am a fan.

(Note: tickets were sold out last week and may be sold out for the final run of the show ending August 9, 2015.  Still, try to go see it.  Click link for ticket info.)

It’s Veteran’s Day in Laredo

The US Department of Veterans Affairs official posterA salute to all who have served.

KGNS put out a short list of activities for today’s Veterans’ Day Celebrations:

•8:30 AM Veterans Day ceremony at Jarvis Plaza
•10:00 AM Veterans Parade starts at St. Peter’s Plaza ends at Jarvis Plaza
•10:00 AM – 7:00 PM Free car wash for all vets at Royal Laser Wash
•7:00 PM Marine Corps Ball at Monte Carlo
•8AM-7PM Military Appreciation Day at El Metro Park and Ride
Have a great Veterans Day!

But that is not all inclusive. There are several restaurants offering veterans free food (Thank you Sue & Lisa) from Applebee’s, to Olive Garden (free entree), Chili’s, Golden Corral (on Monday), Krispy Kreme, Texas Roadhouse and many other restaurant and store discounts.

My dogs are going crazy with all the preparation for the Veteran’s Day parade but it is very gratifying to see so many youth dedicating time to honoring veterans.

The convergence of Cigarroa, Nixon & Martin HS JROTCs at St. Peter's Plaza - LBJ was to the left

Courtesy photo with Ms. Palomo and Mr. Diaz de Leon
TAMIU had a morning breakfast and this photo shows my old friend, Mr. Diaz de Leon being recognized for his service. If I get a chance, I will go to the temescal ceremony tomorrow morning and personally give him a hug 🙂 but by the looks of it, I might be at the military appreciation day events.

Later, the Laredo Little Theater will also be performing “El Soldado Razo” by Luis Valdez and “The Wall: A Pilgrimage” by Jan Stuckey. They will be locally directed by Alberto Guajardo. Check it out:
The Mall del Norte will also be supporting local organization, Volunteers Serving the Need which provides food bags for local low-income veterans and surviving spouses. The volunteers will be helping greet Santa Claus who makes his debut at the mall and passing out coupon books to support the upcoming raffle to support the 501c3.

The volunteers will be at the Military Appreciation event on Saturday selling the raffle tickets to support the shoe-string nonprofit that continues to support more and more veterans (the need to provide basic food is going to explode as more veterans return and may not be able to find employment of have other economic issues).

If you are interested in a raffle ticket or just donating your used goods for resell at the VSTN Thrift Store to support the mission, just visit them at 1202 Salinas Avenue or add them on Facebook.
Of course, we can’t forget that during Military Appreciation Day at the Park & Ride, the Laredo Wrestling Alliance will be wrestling their hearts out.

Although I am an LWA sponsor, I will be at the St. Peter’s Neighborhood Association Thanksgiving potluck party, but I will be there in spirit and hoping El Partner doesn’t break any bones in the ring.

NOTE: Another activity honoring a particular veteran’s experience will be held at Studio P-33 (Gil Rocha’s studio):

And if you are in the Chicago area and support no barriers of who can serve in the military, stop by the American Veterans for Equal Rights event featuring my childhood friend, Leonardo (I wrote about him in an earlier post about the repeal of DADT):

Cindy la del Barrio

What a fun treat Laredo was given with the showing of La Cindy del Barrio by Jeannie Lopez. I went to the final encore performance to support Jeannie and was surprised at how talented the actors were and at Jeannie’s awesome writing! You don’t usually see a play where young rappers who make a girl’s dream of going to “the big party” come true while singing about Glass Kitchen burgers and Danny’s panchos.

I hear Jeannie is writing a new play for next year. I really hope to catch it when it shows at the Laredo Little Theater or whatever venue it will show. For all the laughs, it was well worth the $5.00 ticket price.

Checked out something else WBCA related – Comedy Jam for George

Cleto Rodriguez, the headliner for Comedy Jam for George

I am a big supporter of the Laredo Little Theater so when given the chance at free tickets to Paul Rodriguez at the LEC or pay $25 for the Comedy Jam for George… we went to the Laredo Little Theater. It turned out that the headliner was another Rodriguez, Cleto Rodriguez. During his show, he said he had a show on Fox and of course, made fun of some Latino/Laredo stuff. How coincidental that after the show, we go to Oasis and see a typical spelling error (at least it wasn’t on one of the permanent signs).
Outside of Oasis Restaurant

Because I did try their “frezze” and a few piña coladas (not good for someone who rarely, rarely drinks), I also caught this unusual site:
Uhm... arent Budget Rentals and UHaul Rentals competitors?

So yes, I paid to laugh but the laughing did not stop at just the show. I am easily entertained – not by trying to make fun of anyone but just watching life’s own humor play out in day to day events.