The story of “Beauty and the Beast” may be a tale as old as time, but it has taken on a whole other level of popularity ever since Disney turned it into a Best Picture-nominated animated film in 1991. That version became an instant classic, eventually inspiring a live Broadway musical that in turn became a massive, billion-dollar hit at the box office this past spring.
For Pasadena-based actor Andreas Pantazis, the groundswell of attention to “Beauty” has been especially fruitful. He is playing the play’s villain, Gaston, in a production of the musical at Casa 0101 theatre in Boyle Heights that is running through Jan. 21, but has portrayed key roles in two earlier editions.
“I played Beast the first time and did several ensemble roles including the town baker in another edition, so one thing that I really love coming back to it the third time around is having a good understanding of the show,” says Pantazis. “Playing the Beast was nice because he was a lead with a big character arc, while being in the ensemble was fun since you got to shine onstage in different roles at nearly every moment. But who doesn’t like being a villain? He’s the one antagonist of the whole entire story.”
Pantazis, 30, lived in Arcadia while attending Pasadena City College, but has lived in Pasadena for the past three years. He focuses on stage work, with regular gigs singing with the Pasadena POPS in addition to numerous other area choirs, and is “not as comfortable with film and TV roles.”
“Beast” features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton. Originally directed by Robert Jess Roth on Broadway, the current production is directed by Rigo Tejeda, musically directed by Caroline Benzon and choreographed by Liz Metz.
“Beauty and the Beast” runs through Jan. 21 at CASA 0101 Theater’s main stage, 2102 E. First St., Los Angeles. Tickets are $25 to $60. Call (323) 263-7684 or visit casa0101.org.