CENTERVILLE — Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" may be a tale as old as time, but the costumes for the upcoming production at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre are all new.
"This is the biggest show I've done technically, both costumes and sets," said director Maurie Tarbox. "There are 18 set changes within the first act alone, in just seven scenes — that's huge.
"I thought after doing 'Shrek' last year that that was the biggest show I've ever done," she continued. "Scott Van Dyke built all those unique costumes for me, so I called him. He's really irreplaceable, on- and offstage. I don't know what we'd do without him."
Anyone who has seen either Disney's animated "Beauty and the Beast" or its musical stage adaptation knows the amount of costuming required.
Upon seeing the condition of CenterPoint's old stash of costumes, the theater's team decided to start from scratch.
"Everything is brand-new for the most part: candlesticks, Cogsworth's clock, the wolf heads, salt and pepper shakers, wine bottle … Mrs. Potts is made out of foam," Van Dyke said. "I'm currently making gargoyle heads for our gargoyles. … I've spent the last five weeks in my little den here at the theater creating foam structures."
Van Dyke learned to "play with foam" during last year's production of "Children of Eden."
"There were a lot of animals in Noah's Ark," he said. "I was introduced to polyurethane foam. There were large elephant heads, giraffes, birds, moose and rabbits all made out of this foam."
Van Dyke explained that the foam allows artists to cut unusual shapes and is rigid enough to hold up but light enough for actors to move.
Currently taking on the role of executive producer at the theater, Van Dyke said his previous years of architecture experience can sometimes come in handy.
"There is a little bit of design involved," he said. "I've done sets, props and costumes — it all falls together. This Potts piece is round, and you have to work on the geometry of that."
Van Dyke said he sometimes can get lost in a project — but in a good way.
"This gargoyle head I'm getting more detailed than I probably need to, but it's been fun," he said. "I really enjoy it, but I'm not a costumer. I create the base then hand it off to the costumers and painters, and they make it look beautiful."
"I don't even know how many hours he's spent," Tarbox said. "He's built all the objects: the wardrobe, plates, forks. I mean, how do you make a wardrobe out of foam but the drawers still work? It's amazing!"
She said the show holds plenty of "Disney magic" and that the audience will not be disappointed.
"We hope we're giving the audience those moments they're expecting — like Belle's beautiful golden dress, the Beast's transformation — but we're also hoping to keep it fresh," she said.
The message Tarbox said she is seeking to emphasize is the importance of change.
"We've got the whole song Belle sings about a change in her, but she's not the only one," she said. "Some characters change for the better, some for the worse. I've challenged every actor within their own character to find their own places that they might make turning points. That's what will bring the heart of the show."
If you go ...
What: Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"
When: Monday, Feb. 29 through March 26, times vary, matinees available
Where: CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, 525 N. 400 West, Centerville
How much: $17.50-$24.50
Erica Hansen was the theater editor at the Deseret News for more than three years. An area performer, she was also the original host of the radio program "Showtune Saturday Night."