After ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Chaffey High’s theater department will be looking for a new (temporary) home





What: Chaffey High School theater department production of “Beauty and the Beast”

When: 7 p.m. May 5-6, 2 p.m. May 7, 7 p.m. May 8 and May 12-13, 2 p.m. May 14

Where: Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium, Chaffey High School, 1245 N. Euclid Ave., Ontario

Admission: $10

Information: www.chaffey theatrecompany.com

Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium, one of the grand dames of performance theaters in Southern California, is getting a much-needed facelift.

The makeover, however, is bringing the curtain down on Chaffey High School’s successful theater program for the next two years.

The department’s May performances of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” will be its swan song — at least until other accommodations can be secured.

“In keeping with the modernization at Chaffey High School, the auditorium is going to be inactive,” said Dave Masterson, longtime visual and performing arts department chairman. “There are American Disability Act issues, the restrooms will be enlarged and they will be abating things that were put there in the 1930s.”

The gorgeous ceiling fresco depicting the early Mexican colonization of the area will be carefully restored and painted. Student rallies, Associated Student Body activities, homecoming fun and the many rental events it hosts will be on hold.

“Selfishly, our productions will have to be relocated,” he said. “It will put us in the hunt for somewhere to put on our shows.”

That’s a tall order. This is the 21st season of shows (40 performances) directed by Masterson, and each has drawn huge crowds — more than 200,000 have attended during the years. The most recent rendition of “Cinderella” drew 12,000 people, and many of the tickets for “Beauty and the Beast” already are sold. Up to 15,000 guests are expected during its run.

The “Beauty and the Beast” story originally was written as a fairy tale in 1740. The Chaffey version, running May 5-12, is based on the 1991 Oscar-winning animated feature and the original Broadway production.

After that, Masterson, the department and the students are going to have to wing it. The show, however, will go on.

The California Theatre of the Performing Arts in San Bernardino has offered its stage but there are scheduling and transportation concerns. At the moment, Masterson is eyeing the school’s large cafeteria as a performance stage for the department’s twice-a-year shows.

“That’ll mean we will have to scale back a bit. We won’t be doing the huge musical productions we’ve done in the past. We’re just going to have to get creative. Maybe we’ll do other shows. Or maybe we do ‘Teeny Todd’ instead of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ ” he said. “But that’s what I always say — good theater isn’t where you do it, it’s how you do it.”

The shows the Chaffey High department produces are good theater.

“ ‘Beauty’ will be our last for a while,” Masterson said….

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