Beauty and the Beast: Timeless tale comes to life

By From page B1 | October 25, 2017

True beauty lies within — a timeless lesson found in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," opening Oct. 27 at the Harris Center for the Arts. Courtesy photo

A tale as old as time comes to the Harris Center for the Arts as the El Dorado Musical Theatre returns with its performance of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Director Debbie Wilson will lead her largest ensemble yet, with 70 performers in each cast (Rose and Mirror). Just as in all EDMT shows, the costumes are magnificent and the stage is brought to life with spectacular projections created by the talented Zach Wilson. “Organic Rococo” is how Wilson describes the enchanted castle that is continuously transforming before your eyes throughout the entire play.

The tale
When Belle’s dear father becomes a captive of the bitter and reclusive Beast, Belle’s heroism kicks in and she trades places with her father, making herself the Beast’s prisoner. While living in the castle, Belle discovers a warm, caring and a very human being living within the Beast.

The Beast, punished by an enchantress for being a cruel and self-centered prince, has been living a life of isolation, never expecting to undo the curse bestowed upon him. In the company of Belle, he realizes his heart is still capable of love. But with each falling rose petal, time is running out for the spell to be broken.

Could Belle be the one person to unleash the prince from his outwardly hideous and solitary existence by teaching the Beast how to love again?

Nittany Biggs, Belle in the Rose cast, said she loves playing one of her favorite Disney characters. Her love of reading is one of the similarities she said she sees between herself and Belle but the role does pose a few challenges.

“You know the essence of the character, but it can be hard to bring it to life on stage. You have to be truthful and honest,” said Biggs. But there are perks, she added, “The dresses are gorgeous.”

Stephen Knoble found that to play the villainous character Gaston, he had to work at being “the opposite of who I am.” The biggest challenge, he said, is “knowing the line between the cartoon and the reality of his meanness.“ After researching Gaston, Knoble said he thinks he is not the bad guy people think he is. “Having been idolized as a hero, Gaston thinks he has to be that way to protect his people,” he explained.

Zach Wilson “loves the emotional journey the Beast goes through after starting out rough.” He said this is one of his favorite roles and is perfecting the way the Beast moves and speaks, trying to capture both the human and the animal aspects of his character.

“I am humanizing him so people can relate to him and not hate him right off the bat,” Wilson explained.

Liam Roberts is having fun playing Lumiere in the Rose cast. Even though Roberts has been in 30 shows, this is his first time playing an inanimate object. His only challenge — “speaking with a French accent,” he confessed.

Seven-year-old Lyla Mirhadi said she loves playing a spoon in one of her favorite Disney stories. This is her second show and first time performing at the Harris Center.

With magical moments throughout the performance, Wilson says this production will be “very big fun for the whole family. The youngsters will be enchanted and the older ones will find it beautiful, magical and delightful.”

Be their guest
Join El Dorado Musical Theatre and enjoy a classic tale that reminds us of the importance of finding people’s inner beauty.

Music for “Beauty and the Beast” is by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice with truly enchanted songs, including “Belle,” “Gaston,” “Be Our Guest” and the titular “Beauty and the Beast.” Originally produced by Disney Theatrical Production and originally directed by Robert Jess Roth, the musical is based on the book by Linda Woolverton.

“Beauty and the Beast” runs Oct. 27 through Nov. 5 at the Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway at Folsom Lake College in Folsom. Tickets can be purchased online at harrisscenter.net or by calling the Harris Center ticket office at (916) 608-6888. Ticket’s range in price from $15 to $42.

Crew and cast
The director is Debbie Wilson with choreographer Anjie Rose Wilson, vocal director Jennifer Wittmayer and costume designer Karen McConnell.

Rose Cast: Belle (Nittany Biggs), Beast (Zach Wilson), Gaston (Stephen Knoble), Mrs. Potts (Jocelyn Haney), Maurice (Luke Villanueva), Lumiere (Liam Roberts), Cogsworth (Ty Rhoades), Lefou (Cameron Renstrom), Babette (Emily Fritz), Madame De La Grand Bouche (Lindsey Hunter), Monsiuer D’Arque (Angelo Aceves), Chip (Leighton L’Engle).  Silly Girl #1 (Jordan Soto). Silly Girl #2 (Jessica Cain). Silly Girl #3 (Taylor Baker). Bookseller (Carson Beards), Baker (Brandon Bagley), Carpet (Amaya Pangilinan), Napkins: Emily Hobbs, Hannah Tufts, Jessica Cain, Jessica Garver, Jordan Soto, Katelyn Minnie, Lanna Moore, Lexi Fuchs, Madeline L’Engle, Madison Jantzen, Rachel Nielson, Taylor Baker.  Featured Townswomen: Emily Hobbs, Jessica Garver, Hanna Hurst, Marley Ross, Rachel Nielson. Townspeople, Enchanted Objects, Wolves, Angry Mob, Pub Goers and the Like: Abby Rice, Abigail Waymire, Alayna Fredianelli, Alexandra Peer, Alexandra Witte, Andie Hahn, Ben Bachli, Bethany Glass, Brandon Bagley, Brooke Minnie, Carson Beards, Claire Suneson, Clara Masley, Ella Hoy, Emily Beagley, Emily Rice, Emmalyn Parkins, Evan Haney, Evelyn Harm, Grace Damico, Hannah Hurst, Jenna Kaplan, Julia Romero, Kamran Kazemi, Karina Kazemi, Kinnera Tirumala, Kyra Lueras, Logan Nunn, Lyla Mirhadi, Mackenzie Harr, Madeline Yacur, Madison Konz, Mallory McGee, Marley Ross, Mikey Jantzen, Miranda Garver, Nathan Keel, Nicolas Kamuchey, Nina Lopes, Sarah Dalessi, Sarah Koepers, Sofia Fletcher, Sydney L’Engle, Tara Castle, Thomas Kilcollins, Violet Clary.

Mirror Cast:  Belle (Hannah Davis), Beast (Zach Wilson), Gaston (Stephen Knoble), Mrs. Potts (Emme Sorgea), Maurice (Luke Villanueva), Lumiere (Nick Ribadeneira), Cogsworth (Justin Harvey), Lefou (Josh Davis), Babette (Izzy Weaver), Madame De La Grand Bouche (Kyra Schneider), Monsiuer D’Arque (Seth Marchek), Chip (Tristan Russell), Silly Girl #1 (Grace Hanson), Silly Girl #2 (Ashley Slavin), Silly Girl #3, (Daphne Huegel),  Bookseller (Joey Baciocco), Baker (Zachary Marchek),  Carpet (Aubrey Engstrom), Napkins: Maya Ribadeneira, Abby Robertson, Alex Wessling, Ashley Slavin, Ashley Wright, Daphne Huegel, Grace Hanson, Hailey Miller, Hannah Milton, Julia Harmon, Justine Majewski, Teagan Hornbuckle. Featured Townswomen: Maya Ribadeneira, Kaity Cunnington, Taylor Walczykowski, Ashley Wright, Justine Majewski. Townspeople, Enchanted Objects, Wolves, Angry Mob, Pub Goers and the Like: Adilynn Seeley, Alyssa Seeley, Ana Radwan, Andrei Villanueva, Ashley Newton, Ava Burrell, Bailey Di Meola, Braydan Nickels, Charlotte Stokhaug, Clare Healey, Daisy Knight, Divya Rao, Elizabeth Slavin, Emily Chalmers, Hallie Rumph, Hudson Kane, Jason Harmon, Jenna Williams, Joey Baciocco, Jordan Lampshire, Julia Slavin, Kaity Cunnington, Kalea Porter, Kayla Catania, Kayla Stockbridge, Kaylee Ambler, Kira Ceniceros, Landon Johnson, Leah Hendricks, Leia Rudis, Lennon Nickels, Lily Sorgea, Madeline Sweet, Megan Sabol, Melia Porter, Nathan Hansen, Phoebe Frahm, Reese Throckmorton, Riley McFarland, Sadie Erickson, Sarah Schmitz, Skylar Seivane, Sophia Jenkins, Taylor Walczykowski, Tim Liebreich, Zachary Marchek.

Jana Rossi

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