Happy Holidays

Belle and the Beast, an updated version of the eighteenth-century fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, has waltzed into Boulder's Nomad Theatre. "We always try to do something classic that appeals to families during the holidays," says Nomad resident producer Theresa Klebert. "We want you to have a lighter, happier feeling when you leave the theater."

Written specifically for the Nomad by Christopher Willard and Jamie Bruss, this non-musical (and non-Disney) version, with a cast of seven, stars Geoffrey Kent as the vain prince who is transformed by a curse into a hideous Beast. The tale begins when a lost merchant, played by Steven P. Sickles, wanders into the Beast's enchanted castle and angers the Beast by plucking a red rose from a magic vine -- a crime he must pay for with his life. When the merchant returns home to bid goodbye to his family, his youngest daughter, Belle, played by Irish Jones, sneaks off and takes her father's place, eventually melting the Beast's frigid heart.

"All of us are looking for love in one way or the other," says Klebert. "That's really the story line of Belle and the Beast: what it takes to find true, deep love."

Actually, de Beaumont wrote the classic as a cautionary warning. "She put together this story to teach little girls how to be good and how to find a husband," explains Klebert. "The point of the original story is one doesn't look for love; you need to look for truth, love and merit within your own heart. Then you can be loved."

Belle and the Beast, which opened last week, will run through January 11, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $22 for adults and $20 for children, seniors and students, with a special family package of four tickets for $75.The show is appropriate for kids ages five and up. "The Beast is in full beast costume, and he can definitely be a little frightening," says Klebert. "But it's a fairy tale, so there is a happy ending."

The Nomad Theatre is at 1410 Quince Avenue in Boulder. For further details or reservations, call 303-774-4037. -- Julie Dunn

Your Teen Voice gives kids an outlet
SUN, 11/23

The truth is out: Teens really do have better things to do than break their necks skateboarding, pierce their belly buttons and crank up their boomboxes at three in the morning. Not that they don't do those things, but today's youths are born multi-taskers, and a new weekly local program for adolescents is challenging the creative and thoughtful to show the world just what they've got. Your Teen Voice, premiering today at 8:30 a.m. on UPN 20, is a teen show with a twist. "It's a brand-new concept that no one's really tried -- calling on high school students to be producers," says executive producer Rita McCoy. It's all part of UPN's plan to fill its FCC-sanctioned community-affairs program requirement in a more meaningful way, by giving teens a larger role in creating a show for their peers. Today's kickoff features teen-made videos --including a mini-documentary on drag racing, a computer-animated short and a theatrical vignette called "Purple Heart" -- all introduced by a personality-packed foursome, ages fifteen to eighteen, who were culled from seventy contestants at auditions last summer. Other features promised include roundtable discussions and on-the-street interviews.McCoy, who says UPN has enough material right now for four episodes, encourages young filmmakers to submit their work for consideration. For guidelines, log on to www.upn2.tv and go to the Your Teen Voice page. -- Susan Froyd

Discovering a Gay Teen's Geography
WED, 11/26

For fifteen years, Seattle-area author Brent Hartinger wrote one unsold novel after another, toiling in obscurity, the whole nine yards. All the while, he was ignoring the obvious: his own experience as a gay male and co-founder and facilitator of a gay-teen support organization. Interestingly enough, though, Hartinger, who really didn't come out until he was in college, says his popular new young-adult novel, Geography Club, the upbeat story of a gay teen who discovers and starts a club for others like himself, gave him the opportunity to rewrite his own undecided adolescence. It's been a new lease on life for Hartinger the writer: He's finally found his niche in the YA genre, with a contract for three more books (including a second non-gay-themed book, The Last Chance Texaco, due out in February), as well as a sequel to Geography Club. Meanwhile, his readings have been standing-room only, which says something about the power of word of mouth; it also indicates the real need for stigma-free books catering to gay teens (and, as Hartinger notes, adults like him, who want to rethink their pasts). Join the local legions today at 1 p.m., when Hartinger reads at Relatively Wilde Books, 42 South Broadway; for details, call 303-777-0766. -- Susan Froyd

Paws-itively Pleasing
Disney's Bear gets his party on
THURS, 11/20

There will be plenty of singing and cha-cha-ing at the Bear in the Big Blue House Live "Surprise Party," when Bear plans a soiree for his mouse friend, Tutter.The live show opens tonight at 7 p.m. at the Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt Street. It stays true to the Disney Channel television show by using the same voices and characters. Ojo, the adorable girl bear; Luna, the moon; and Ray, the sun, will make appearances. But this time, four people will also stop by the blue house.

"Kids aren't used to seeing Bear interact with humans. It's something new for them," says publicist Lee Henderson.

Bear's tiny fans are encouraged to stand, clap and sing during the ninety-minute show, and there's a chance they will be broadcast on an on-stage screen. Bear features extravagant lighting, costumes and choreography.

"It's very similar in its style to a musical like The Producers or one of those Broadway shows," says Henderson.

The show runs through Sunday. Tickets are $12 for tonight's show, and $13-$22 for all other shows. They can be purchased at any Ticketmaster outlet, Rite Aid or Foley's, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 303-830-8497. Visit www.bearinthebigbluehouselive.com for details. -- DeNesha Tellis

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Julie Dunn
Contact: Julie Dunn
Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd
DeNesha Tellis