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The 'Beauty' of returning home

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

November 11, 2010|By Candice Baker

Like the film, the musical offers something for all ages, Spencer said.

"Belle is such a wonderful role model for younger girls. There are action scenes for younger boys and romance for couples. The scenes onstage might be a little bit darker than in the film version. The action is a little bit more adventurous, and the stakes are a little higher onstage. We have a wonderful cast who really just dives right into so much of the material. There's romance, spectacular production numbers and also softer, sweeter moments; it's very moving, and there's so much to take away from the show — so many different emotions, and so many different levels of excitement."

For Spencer, the role is a dream come true; the odds were stacked against him when he first heard about the opportunity.

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"I was doing a show last summer up in the Solvang area, and I saw that they were having auditions for 'Beauty and the Beast' in L.A., but they were only going to be there one day," Spencer said.

He sent in his picture and resume, and a casting staff member "saw something" in him; although his commitments made him unable to attend the Los Angeles audition, Spencer soon found himself booking a trip to New York to audition during one of their callbacks there.

"I went again and again; then they offered me the role," he said. "It happened very quickly, back in September of last year. I was ecstatic. I had auditioned for 'Beauty and the Beast' a few times before for local productions, so to be on the national tour with Disney's stamp of approval, and for such a good company — talk about a heady experience for me. I was just floating.

"It was a lot to process; my involvement happened so quickly. I'm sure many actors out there do this frequently — fly out for an audition — but it's not something I had done before. To fly to New York for a weekend to audition for something, that's an investment. I feel that it really shows that this is something serious. This is a serious career move, and the stakes are much higher now. During that weekend, I tried not to think about how life-changing it could be; I tried to just keep myself calm."

The opportunity also has afforded Spencer his first chance to tour the country. Previously he had only gone on short jaunts, either growing up with his family or performing last year in "A Christmas Carol" on the East Coast. He said he's been amazed by the Disney touring experience.

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