Creative, Whimsical “La Belle” Charms at Imago Theatre

Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”  This couldn’t be truer than when the people at Imago deliver one of their creative and engaging performances.  Their newest production, La Belle: Lost in the World of Automaton, is on stage now through January 8th and should be at the top of your holiday to-do list.

La Belle is a story within a story told by two delightful actors.  Veteran actor Jim Vadala plays the charming Sam Stoker.  Sam’s job is to stoke the fire of the big ship that is the setting of the story.  In La Belle, he is joined by a quirky and endearing character, Lady Rose, played by Justine Davis (also a local actress with an a-ma-zing voice), who during a vicious storm at sea, tumbles into the belly of the ship. There the two begin their magnificent re-telling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast.

Throughout the performance, Sam introduces his works of puppetry and storytelling to Lady Rose with every closed door and clothing trunk he opens. In the performance I attended, this was done seamlessly.  As their friendship blossoms into romance, Rose begins to join Sam in his whimsical tale and fancy.

What did I love about this performance?  My 12-year old son attended this performance with me. We’ve attended performances at Imago before when he was younger. He was skeptical whether he’d truly enjoy a storyline about “Beauty and the Beast.”  Quickly, he figured out this was no ordinary retelling, but had a whimsical approach that appealed to him. The whole idea of steampunk and automaton (a moving mechanical device that is an imitation of a human being) quickly captured his interest.  This production is posted as appropriate for children 4-years old and older, but the beauty of it is children of varying ages will find different things engaging.  As an adult, I loved the story, theatrics, and its comedic charm. As a mom, I was very grateful to have a children’s cultural performance that wasn’t too kiddish to attend with my son.  At 12, my son is at that precipice between childhood and teenhood and pleasing him at the point of development can be hard. So, I was thrilled he enjoyed it.

Things to keep in mind:  

  • Don’t be late! It’s a small venue and the stage is right there for the audience to experience. Late entries would interrupt the audience’s experience. So, arrive early.   
  • Part 1 of the performance lasts approximately 45 minutes. A 15-minute intermission follows. There are some beverages and snacks available during intermission.  Part 2 lasts approximately 20 minutes.
  • There is a small parking lot with off-street parking
  • Photos and video are prohibited during the performance. So, please check your phone and save your selfies for later.
  • Imago is located at 17 8th Street in Southeast Portland
  • You can find tickets here; they range from $19.50 – $42.50

Debbie Tofte

Debbie Tofte

Like so many people, I traveled here to the Pacific Northwest as a tourist and fell in love with it. I’ve lived in the Portland area since 1998 and treasure Oregon’s natural beauty, eclectic style, and the down to earth brilliant people who live here. An educator, I teach in a middle school in Newberg and am passionate about kids’ learning and having fun in the process. My son helps me experience life through an exciting lens and as all parents know, each day offers something new.
Debbie Tofte

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