by Rita Charleston
The Abington-based Storybook Musical Theatre is concluding its 24th season with the musical adaptation of the classic love story, “Beauty and the Beast.” The family musical plays at the Gratz College Theater, 7605 Od York Rd. in Melrose Park, through July 23.
The original Madame deBeaumont story has been adapted for the stage by Storybook’s Artistic Director, Patricia Goldberg, with original music by Kevin Arruda. The story tells of a young lady who sacrifices her own happiness and freedom to save her father’s life. In doing so she and everyone around her learns the true meaning of love and that a person’s character often outweighs his/her external appearance.
The tale begins when an arrogant prince is transformed into a beast as punishment for only associating with rich and beautiful people. He will be destined to live as a beast unless he can learn to love someone for herself and find someone who can do the same.
Glenside’s Maggie Griffin-Smith plays the selfless and caring Beauty. Originally from Ithaca, N.Y., she moved to New Jersey to attend Montclair State University, eventually graduating with a BFA in Musical Theater. “When I was very young my mother introduced me to two musicals: ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘The Sound of Music.’ I loved them so much that they almost became like my comfort food. When you’re a kid and you can play at anything you choose to do and all you want to do is see a musical and sing and dance around, then you know you’re hooked. My mom’s side of the family is into academics, and at one point I thought I might become an English teacher. But theater eventually won out.”
Her mother’s side of the family did win out, however, when it came time for Griffin-Smith to decide on a place to live. “My mother was born and raised in Philadelphia, later moving out to the suburbs. In fact, today my aunt lives in Glenside right around the corner from me. It’s a perfect location for other reasons, too. I love working with Storybook, and it’s close to me in Abington. Plus, this is a great place to raise my four-year-old daughter, Fiona. She loves it here, and so do I.”
The actress and single mother moved to Glenside in 2012. Since then she’s worked at many area theaters including the Walnut Street Theatre, Eagle Theatre, Broadway Theatre of Pitman (N.J.), Adrienne Theater and others. In addition to appearing on stage, she also teaches acting at Storybook and Horizon Theatre.
And although she loves the fact that following her childhood dream is working out for her, it’s not without its difficulties. “An actor is constantly interviewing. There’s always the uncertainty of what’s next and all the anxiety that goes with it. You’re always hustling and looking for the next thing. But funny enough, that is one of the best things about being in this business. Every day is new. Every day is an adventure. It’s the kind of career that gives you a lot of variety. And at age 30, I like living in the moment.”
Grffin-Smith does have some other appearances scheduled, but if she could have it her way, she says she’d love to do a big Broadway revival of “My Fair Lady,” one of her favorite childhood musicals. “Wouldn’t that just be wonderful?”
For tickets and information about “Beauty and the Beast,” call 215-659-8550 or www.storybookmusical.org.