Classic Children’s Stories Reimagined for the Stage

By Michael Berick

theatrical performances in LA

Take a fresh look at “Beauty and the Beast” at the Valley Performing Arts Center Nov. 19. PHOTO COURTESY OPUS 3 ARTISTS

Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Willy Wonka, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz – these well-known characters from childhood will find their stories re-imagined in intriguing ways this month.  

Imago Theatre stages its highly original version of “Beauty and the Beast,” offering “La Belle, Lost in the World of the Automaton” at 3 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Valley Performing Arts Center (18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Filled with songs, story-telling and slapstick humor, the production uses puppets, animatronics and visual effects to tell a family-geared tale set on a steamship inhabited by a living mechanical man. Tickets cost $33. 

Don’t expect your typical journey to Oz if you go see The Experiential Theater Company’s “Journey to Oz” at 1 p.m. Nov. 18 and 1 and 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Samueli Theater (Segerstrom Center For The Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; In this highly inventive play, audiences are placed in the middle of the action and can become part of the show (or not). Either way, tickets are $20. 

“Hansel And Gretel: A Wickedly Musical Treat” actually is more rocking than wicked. That’s because acclaimed family musician Justin Roberts composed the score to this wildly colorful, wonderfully whimsical version of the classic Brothers Grimm fable. The production comes to the Carpenter Performing Arts Center (6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach; for shows at 1 and 4 p.m. Nov. 25. Tickets: $25.  

The Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A.; serves up a unique production of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory In Concert” at 8 p.m. Nov. 4. A screening of the original 1971 movie will be augmented with live music, singers, dancers and an all-star cast. There will also be a costume contest, and attendees will get Scratch-N-Sniff Golden Tickets to use during the screening. Actual tickets cost $31-200. 

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