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David Elzer



starring in Lythgoe Family Panto’s


Written by Kris Lythgoe
Directed by Sheldon Epps
Choreography by Mandy Moore
Musical Direction by Keith Harrison
Musical Supervisor Michael Orland

The Holiday Enchantment Begins Weds., December 5th at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach!

October 18, 2018…Laguna Beach, CA…Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham, Executive Director Ellen Richard and Lythgoe Family Panto (LFP) are thrilled to announce that Ashley Argota (“True Jackson VP,” “Lab Rats”), Thomas Hobson (Ain’t Misbehavin’, Recorded in Hollywood), Heath Calvert (Amelie, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), Riley Costello (“Hairspray Live,” Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirate’s Christmas) Roland Rusinek (The Phantom of the Opera) and David Engel (Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, La Cage Aux Folles) are set to star in Lythgoe Family Panto’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE. Written by Kris Lythgoe, directed by Sheldon Epps, choreography by Mandy Moore, musical direction by Keith Harrison and musical supervisor Michael Orland, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE will begin performances on Wednesday, December 5 and run through December 30, 2018 with a press opening on Friday, December 7 at 7:00pm at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach. Casting is led by LFP Producer Becky Lythgoe, and the full cast will be announced at a later date.

“Families, our audiences and our subscribers are in for a romantically glorious (and hilarious) holiday experience as we present our fourth Panto spectacle, the truly magical BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE!” comments Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham and Executive Director Ellen Richard. Remarks Becky Lythgoe, “We are overjoyed to be bringing BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE to the Laguna Playhouse this year and are delighted to announce this fantastic cast and creative team that will be sure to make all your family holiday’s dreams come true!”

This modern version of the classic fairytale, Lythgoe Family Panto’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE brings all the magic of the traditional British family Holiday Panto to American audiences. In this interactive experience, the audience is encouraged to CHEER for Belle, BOO for Gus and sing along with popular songs such as the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive,” The Chainsmokers & Coldplay’s “Something Just Like This,” and Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose.” Directed by Tony-nominated Sheldon Epps, and choreographed by “La La Land’s” Mandy Moore, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE is sure to delight children of all ages!

Lythgoe Family Panto produces fun, musical theatre the whole family can enjoy. Known for their creativity and involvement in television hits “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” the Lythgoes are dedicated to bringing affordable theatre to families across America. Based on the Grimm fairy tales and others, each story has been modernized with topical scripts for parents and well known pop songs for kids. The Lythgoes pride themselves on creating a memorable experience a family can share together.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE marks Lythgoe Family Panto’s fourth production at the venerable Laguna Playhouse. Past Pantos at Laguna Playhouse include Aladdin and His Winter Wish starring Kira Kosarin and Barry Pearl, A Snow White Christmas starring Marina Sirtis and Lindsay Pearce & Sleeping Beauty and her Winter Knight starring Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Joely Fisher. As part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to develop theatre for young audiences, Lythgoe Family Panto together with Laguna Playhouse will bring the magic of Panto to hundreds of underserved children who attend school in Orange County. Lythgoe Family Panto is grateful to their partners and friends at Golden State Foods for generously providing school buses for the student matinees.


SHELDON EPPS (Director) was honored to be Artistic Director of the renowned Pasadena Playhouse for twenty years (1997-2017).  Before beginning his tenure at the Playhouse, he served as Associate Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre for four years.  He was also a co-founder of the Off-Broadway theatre The Production Company. Currently, he continues to serve Pasadena Playhouse as Artistic Director Emeritus. Mr. Epps has directed both plays and musicals at many of the country’s major theatres including the Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Guthrie, Playwrights Horizons, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, and the Goodman Theatre and Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars.  He conceived the highly-acclaimed musicals Play On! and Blues In the Night, which both received Tony Award nominations.  He directed productions of both of those shows on Broadway, in London, and at theatres throughout the world.  He also co-directed the Broadway production of Baby It’s You! which had its world premiere at The Pasadena Playhouse.

MANDY MOORE (Choreography) The 2017 and 2018 Emmy Award winner and seven-time Emmy-nominee Mandy Moore is a world-class Director, Producer, Choreographer, and Dancer best known for her ground-breaking work as a producer and choreographer on the global television hit “So You Think You Can Dance.”  In 2017 she made history by being the first choreographer to choreograph for the “Golden Globe Awards,” “Academy Awards,” “The Grammy Awards,” and “Emmy Awards” in the same year! As a leader in the entertainment industry, she is on the Board of Governors at the Television Academy leading the newly established Choreographer Peer Group. Mandy’s choreography can be seen in the highly acclaimed film “La La Land,” written and directed by Damien Chazelle. Recent works include Shania Twain’s “NOW Tour,” “90th Academy Awards Coco performance,” Jimmy Fallon’s opening number for the “Golden Globes” (a take-off on “La La Land’s” opening).  Other notable works include Celine Dion’s “Taking Chances” concert tour; Britain’s Strictly Come Dancing; Cirque du Soleil’s My Immortal. Her television credits include “Disney’s 60th Anniversary Celebration;” “Modern Family;” “Glee” and “American Idol;” commercials for Target, Amazon Prime, and Skechers. Her film credits include, David O. Russell’s Oscar-nominated films “American Hustle” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” and Leslye Headland’s film “Sleeping With Other People.”

KEITH HARRISON (Musical Director) has produced work for ABC, NBC, FOX, Disney, Sony, Lifetime, McDonald’s, Allstate, Porsche, Toyota, Big Lots, Skechers, Cricket Wireless, and many others. He has music directed hundreds of live productions, including the “Daytime Emmy Awards,” “The Radio Disney Music Awards,” “Celebrity Cruises Entertainment,” Heathers: The Musical, and Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion: The Musical. He has been a member of the industry-leading arranging team at “American Idol,” the house pianist for “Access Hollywood,” and is a partner artist of Roland Corporation. Recent collaborators include Jason Alexander, Keith David, Ana Gasteyer, Ariana Grande, Jennette McCurdy, Erich Bergen, Shoshana Bean, and Lilias White. He also portrayed rock ’n roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis in the original Chicago cast of Million Dollar Quartet. Keith is a proud graduate of Northwestern University, where he met his wife and writing partner Laura Harrison. Their original musical Emojiland is currently in development.

ASHLEY ARGOTA (Belle) Best known for her roles on shows like “True Jackson VP,” “Lab Rats,” “How To Build A Better Boy,” and Freeform’s “The Fosters.” Ashley also starred as Princess Jasmine in the Lythgoe’s Aladdin and His Winter Wish.

THOMAS HOBSON (The Beast) is thrilled to officially join the Lythgoe Family Panto. Theatre: Andre in Ain’t Misbehavin (La Mirada Theatre), Curtis in Dreamgirls (TUTS), Sam Cooke in Recorded in Hollywood (Kirk Douglas Theatre), Complete History of America Abridged (Ovation Award, Garry Marshall Theatre), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Pasadena Playhouse), Shout Sister Shout! (Pasadena Playhouse), City Kid (Hudson Theatre), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, (Center Theatre Group). Film:  Leading roles in “Driven,” “Be The Light,” “Stone/Fruit,” “I’ll Be Watching,” “The Stars Are Already Dead,” “Ghosts of the Ozarks,” “XXIII Boss,” and “Squirrel” Television: Series regular on “The Fresh Beat Band” and “The Fresh Beat Band of Spies.” Recurring role on “Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack,” Guest Roles on “Dynasty,” “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS: LA.” Recording: EP “Beyond the Beat”.

HEATH CALVERT (Gus) Broadway: Amelie, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Hair, Good Vibrations. Off-Broadway: Nobody Loves You (Second Stage; Lucille Lortel nomination), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (The Public). Regional: The Old Globe, Studio Theatre, O’Neill Theater Center.  Concerts: Nashville, Baltimore, National Arts, Indianapolis, Alberta and Phoenix Symphonies. 

ROLAND RUSINEK (Dame Derriere) NYC Theatre; The Phantom Of The Opera, Broadway. A Christmas Carol, Madison Square Garden. Sweeney Todd, Cinderella, The Most Happy Fella; NYC Opera Lincoln Center. Jerry Springer The Opera, Carnegie Hall. Kismet, Encores!. The Prince And The Pauper. Off- Broadway; Tours; The Addams Family, Kiss Me Kate. Regionally; Guys & Dolls, TUTS. Man Of La Mancha, La Mirada. Lend Me A Tenor, Bay Street. Oliver!, Sweeney Todd, Music Circus. Candide, CTG/Ahmanson. Living On Love, Asolo Rep. Mousetrap, The Producers, Malts Jupiter. Casa Valentina, Gable Stage. First Date, Actor’s Playhouse. Tartuffe, American Stage. Film/TV; The Producers, Coop And Cami… BearCity, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Guest lecturer; UCLA’s Bolger Program. Graduate; LACHSA, PCPA. Coming Up; Sweeney Todd, South Coast Rep.

RILEY COSTELLO (Pierre) is so happy to be back in the world of Panto this year, having played “Peter Pan” last Holiday Season. In addition to his stage work on Broadway and around the country, most recently he performed in Beauty And The Beast at the Hollywood Bowl. He can be seen as “Brad” in NBC’s 3 time Emmy-Winning Hairspray Live! Broadway: 13, A New Musical, Bye, Bye, Birdie, and Everyday Rapture. Regional Favorites include: “Finch” in How To Succeed…(Nom. for ‘Best Actor’ CT Critics Circle) and the Title Role in Peter Pan (Nom. for ‘Best Actor’ CT Critics Circle), SURF! The Musical in Las Vegas, The Regional Premiere of Because Of Winn-Dixie, and SCKBSTD. New works by Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater, Andrew Lippa, and Bruce Hornsby. He also performed at Lincoln Center as “Puck” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Metropolitan Opera. Last year he directed the Bay Area Premiere of Disney’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. 

DAVID ENGEL (Louis Vuitton) was last seen on this stage starring opposite Leslie Caron in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.  An award winning fixture in Southland theatre, David has starred in numerous productions such as Crazy for You, The Music Man, Singin’ in the Rain, The Producers, The Addams Family, Chicago and the Lythgoe Panto, Sleeping Beauty as Aurora’s “Nanny Tickle”.  Broadway credits include Putting it Together, Seussical, and the original production of La Cage aux Folles.  Mr. Engel created the role of Smudge in the original New York production of Forever Plaid, and again in Plaid Tidings and Forever Plaid: The Movie.  

The creative and producing team for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE includes scenic and costume design by Lythgoe Family Panto creative department with additional scenic design by Ian Wilson, costume design by Soyon An and Michele Young with additional costumes by Albemarle; Lythgoe Family Panto, technical director Phil McCandlish and Andy Tyler and associate producer Patty Onagan. Lythgoe Family Panto executive producers include Kris Lythgoe, Bonnie Lythgoe, Becky Lythgoe and Jason Haigh-Ellery.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE previews on Wednesday, December 5 & Thursday, December 6 at 7:00pm; will open on Friday, December 8 at 7:00pm and runs through Sunday, December 30, 2018 at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.

Performances will be Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:00pm; Saturdays & Sundays at 12:00pm & 4:00pm.

Performances on Thursday, December 20 & Friday, December 21 are at 3:00pm & 7:00pm; Wednesday, December 26 & Thursday, December 27 are at 3:00pm; and Friday, December 28 performances are at 3:00pm & 7:00pm.

Tickets range from $41 – $76 and can be purchased online at or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Group discounts are available by calling 949-497-2787 ext. 229. Prices subject to change.

The box office is open Mondays – Saturdays: 11a.m. to 5 p.m. (open until showtime on performance days); Sundays: 11a.m. – 4p.m.

For more information on all shows and programming visit For more information on all shows and programming visit LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.

# # #

To schedule press interviews, photos or press comps, please contact David Elzer/DEMAND PR at 818/508-1754 or by e-mail at

Founded in 1920, the historic Laguna Playhouse is one of the oldest continuously-operating not-for-profit theatres on the West Coast and is proud to be an active participant in the celebrated Laguna Beach arts community. From classic plays and musical comedies to the current off-Broadway smash, cutting edge and traditional music exhibitions, dance festivals and stand-up comedy performances, Laguna Playhouse brings the magical experience of the performing arts direct to over 80,000 patrons each season.

Laguna Playhouse educational programming includes year-round classes, productions by and for children and teens (Youth Theatre) and is one of the few companies in the region that offer a curriculum-based professional theatre-touring program, TheatreReach, which aligns with the California State Standards for literature, history and performing arts curriculum.

Laguna Playhouse has been recognized in 2017, 2016 and 2015 as one of Orange County Register’s “Best of OC” in the category of Live Theatre, and has been recognized by OC Hotlist in their “Best Theatre Group” winning first place in 2017 and 2016. The Laguna Playhouse has featured many talented performers on stage, including Ed Asner, Leslie Caron, Hershey Felder, Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Val Kilmer, Gregory Harrison, Dan Lauria, Hal Linden, Wendie Malick, Rita Rudner, Charles Shaughnessy, French Stewart, Loretta Swit, and Bette Davis.

Learn What’s Going On at

Calendar Listing:


Written by Kris Lythgoe

Directed by Sheldon Epps

Choreography by Mandy Moore

Musical Direction by Keith Harrison

Opens: Friday, December 7 at 7:00pm

Runs: Friday, December 7 – Sunday, December 30, 2018

Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:00pm; Saturdays & Sundays at 12:00pm & 4:00pm.

Performances on Thursday, December 20 & Friday, December 21 are at 3:00pm & 7:00pm; Wednesday, December 26 & Thursday, December 27 are at 3:00pm and Friday, December 28 performances are at 3:00pm & 7:00pm.

Previews: Wednesday, December 5 & Thursday, December 6 at 7:00pm


606 Laguna Canyon Rd. in Laguna Beach, CA

Tickets: $41.00 – $76.00

For tickets – visit or call 949-497-2787

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