A live-action version of Disney’s 1991 movie “Beauty and the Beast” comes out in theaters March 17.
The week before, Brownstown Central High School’s choral department plans to get people excited about the classic tale with its musical production.
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After performing hourlong matinees for some elementary, middle school and high school students today, the full 2½-hour performances will be at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at 5 p.m. Saturday in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the door.
Director Stephanie Brock said with the movie in theaters soon, it wound up being great timing for the school’s show.
“We just liked that they built the excitement for our show. I like to look at it that way,” she said, laughing.
Brownstown last did “Beauty and the Beast” six years ago, Brock said.
The story focuses on the relationship between the Beast, a prince who is magically transformed into a monster as punishment for his arrogance; and Belle, a beautiful young woman he imprisons in his castle. To become a prince again, Beast must win her love in return. Otherwise, he remains a monster forever.
Brock said the story line is appealing to all generations.
“Certainly, any time you do a Disney production, that’s going to draw in your youngsters,” she said. “But I think also, parents and grandparents, they watched the movie with their kids or grandchildren, so the story line appeals. It’s just a classic. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ will never get old. It’s kind of like ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ That will never get old. There are just some classics out there.”
Brock received licensing to do the musical in July. Auditions were in front of four judges on four weeknights at the end of November to cast the 17 main roles and 40 chorus members. Ten stage crew members also were chosen.
Scripts were distributed in early December, and the main cast and chorus alternated practicing a couple of nights each week in January.
From February on, everyone rehearsed three hours a night Monday through Thursday, and 2½-hour practices were on a few Saturdays to learn choreography.
“Kids have stepped up,” Brock said. “We’ve even had a couple in big parts who I had not had in choir since they were in elementary school and I taught there, so that’s kind of neat to see them come on board and do such a fantastic job.”
She said it has been good to have another show with a large cast.
“I’ve been lucky last year and this year that I’ve had kids who want to do it,” she said. “I hope to continue to be able to use those kind of numbers because I just think it fills the stage, and it makes it magnificent for the audience to see that.”
Juniors Noah Reynolds and Destiny Duncan are playing the main roles of the Beast and Belle, respectively.
This is the third musical for each of them. In last year’s production of “Grease,” Duncan played one of the lead roles, Sandy, and Reynolds played a supporting male role, Kenickie.
“It’s not really based upon what’s the lead. It’s just whatever seems like is fun to me,” Duncan said of auditioning for roles. “I love to challenge myself, to put myself in other people’s positions and show everyone different aspects of life.”
Reynolds said he likes being a part of musicals.
“I just really enjoy this altogether,” he said. “The process and everything is just so much fun as it is. Everyone coming together, it’s a lot of good people around, friends. We’ve had good groups over the years.”
Playing main roles in “Beauty and the Beast” means a lot to both Reynolds and Duncan.
“My favorite part is I just get to yell and growl a lot,” Reynolds said. “I have to be loud and intimidating, so basically, I combined a little bit of animal sort of noises with what I do during football games, what I do on the field to get everybody pumped up. It’s a team effort.”
Duncan said it was her dream to be in “Beauty and the Beast” and play the role of Belle.
“It was my childhood show,” she said. “I always wanted to do the musical, so once I heard (about Brownstown’s production), I was really wanting to do it because it’s just an empowering role — a young lady just being herself and figuring out it does not matter what people think about her.”
To get people excited about the show, the cast participated in a Be Our Guest Character Breakfast on Saturday at W.R. Ewing. More than 150 children and adults ate breakfast and took pictures with cast members dressed in costume.
“That was a huge success,” Brock said. “We would like to be able to continue to tag in something that appeals to our little kids and makes them want to come back. That also helps us be able to fund this because the licensing is so expensive, and your backdrops are expensive and the costume rental. It’s advertising, but it’s also a fundraiser to help put money back in the pot.”
Soon it will be showtime, and Reynolds and Duncan both said they are ready.
“Everybody talks about stage fright and everything, but honestly, in my opinion, show nights are the best because you’re a little nervous, but that kind of fuels into adrenaline where you can put out more energy. I’ve always done better in front of crowds,” Reynolds said.
“I’m looking forward to just having it come so far and having everyone realize how much effort we put into this,” Duncan said.
Brock said the stage is set for the students, so it’s their time to shine.
“We’ve got everything ready for them,” she said. “Now, hopefully, their hard work pays off, and they kick it up a notch, and they are in performance mode and really embrace those characters.”
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What: “Beauty and the Beast”
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday (doors open an hour before each show)
Where: Brownstown Central High School auditorium, 500 N. Elm St., Brownstown
Cost: $10 (tickets are available at the door)
Director: Stephanie Brock
Assistant director: Alisha Griffin
Sound and lights: Marcia Anderson and Aaron Wright
Costumes: Crystal Stuckwisch and Maxine Brock
Set design: Blake Hackman
Choreographer: Morgan Myers
Volunteer: Jack Griffin
Principal cast members
The Beast: Noah Reynolds
Belle: Destiny Duncan
Gaston: Matthew Rogers
LeFou: Keggin York
Maurice: Conner Adams
Cogsworth: Hunter Curry
Lumiere: Kylen Terry
Mrs. Potts: Maddy Jones
Chip: Alison Deaton
Madame de la Grande Bouche: Laney Warren
Babette: Shauna Drake
Monsieur D’Arque: Katie Rohlfing
Silly Girl No. 1: Olivia Barlow
Silly Girl No. 2: Hannah Schoenherr
Silly Girl No. 3: Destiny Luttrell
Narrator: Cherokee Scott
Beggar Woman: Maci Bell