The 'Beauty' of returning home

Former Costa Mesa resident comes to OCPAC as Maurice, Belle's inventor father.

November 11, 2010|By Candice Baker
  • Christopher Spencer appears as Maurice the inventor in the touring Broadway production of "Beauty and the Beast" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Christopher Spencer appears as Maurice the inventor… (Photo courtesy…)

While stacking "Beauty and the Beast" dolls, board games and Christmas ornaments on shelves at the Disneyland Emporium back in 1991, Christopher Spencer had no idea what his future held.

Today, he is touring the country as Maurice, Belle's inventor father, in the national tour of "Beauty and the Beast" — now one of the longest-running musicals in history. It is set to arrive Tuesday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

"We've played some incredible venues, but OCPAC is the one I've been waiting for," Spencer said. "Having grown up in Santa Ana, I think I was just out of high school when they built OCPAC. It just means a lot to me to be performing at that location. I want the people whom I care about so much to be proud of me, proud of my work and proud of my production."

Spencer said he loves meet-and-greets with audiences at the stage door after shows, and encouraged fans of the musical to stop by and say hello after the show.


A former Costa Mesa resident, Spencer attended Cal State Long Beach; he resides in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach. While in college, Spencer worked at Disneyland — but didn't start acting until he was out of school.

"Growing up in Orange County, you're kind of growing up in the shadow of the Matterhorn," Spencer said. "At that time, I hadn't even thought about [acting] as a hobby," Spencer said. "I look back on those days and think, 'Wow, I never would have thought then that I would be touring the country performing in 'Beauty and the Beast' — but maybe there was something that kind of stuck with me from those days."

The touring production of "Beauty and the Beast" was put together using the original Broadway creative team, Spencer said.

"Talk about an experience," he said. "It's like having a time capsule open up for you, and they let us play around with things. There was no 'This is how we did it before.' They were given the chance to re-imagine the material."

Spencer said the musical version of the animated film closely follows the film's storyline, but has added songs and increased character development for characters like Maurice.

"I think the relationship between him and Belle is better developed," Spencer said. "They're not just parent/child but very good friends, and they look out for each other. You really get a little bit about their history, with her mother no longer present. Maurice essentially raised Belle on his own for a good period of time. Their bond is very strong."

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