Broadway is coming to Livingston County this month, as Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” takes the stage at the Howell High School Freshman Campus, presented by the Community Theatre of Howell.
Performances are Nov. 11-13 and 18-20, with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, available online at cththeatre.org.
Tickets are also available at Kahuna Coffee and Finding Roots in Howell; Big Acre in Brighton; Ed Bock Feed and Stuff in Pinckney; and Maria’s School of Dance in Fowlerville. You can also order tickets by calling the box office at 517-545-1290.
CTH is known for the big-stage splendor of its musicals, and director Kevin Rogers says this will be one of its biggest shows yet.
“If people have seen the play before, they can expect the unexpected,” Rogers said. “Anyone who has worked with me knows that I love to throw curveballs at the audience and give them something they’ve never seen before. In this show, we’ve really concentrated on the raw emotions of each character. Every little detail and facial expression means something, and the cast has worked hard to convey that.”
The story of “Beauty and the Beast” is familiar to generations of Disney fans. In long-ago France, an arrogant young prince and his castle’s servants fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress, who turns him into the hideous Beast, a fate he must suffer forever – unless he can learn to love and be loved in return.
A spirited, headstrong village girl named Belle enters the Beast’s castle after he imprisons her father Maurice. With the help of his enchanted servants, including the matronly Mrs. Potts, Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of his isolation – all while fending off the misplaced affections of the conceited Gaston.
The production numbers include a number of Disney favorites, including the show-stopping “Be Our Guest.” In CTH’s production, that number runs more than seven minutes – and it’s guaranteed to have the audience on its feet.
“It’s my favorite Disney movie, which is why I wanted to direct this show,” Rogers said. “I love the storyline, the humor and the songs. And the play is almost identical to the movie, but better. The most appealing thing about it to me is that we get to tell a story while having fun, and not taking ourselves too seriously. It’s all about the emotion.”
The CTH cast includes Hannah Grischke as Belle, Justin Schnute as the Beast, Rick Spangler as Gaston, Ethan O’Dell as LeFou, Sarah Thomas as Mrs. Potts, Lila Manning as Chip, Foyid Mockbil as Lumiere, Tori Rogers as Babbette, Dane Douglas as Cogsworth, Bronsyn Sacker as Wardrobe and Brent Bishop as Maurice.
“This is the best cast I’ve ever been around, hands down,” Rogers said. “They really understand what I’m trying to accomplish when I jump up on stage during a scene and change things up. They understand that just subtle things can make or break a scene and they’ve all totally bought into it to make the show great. They’re superb actors, superb singers, superb dancers. We’re loaded with triple-threats – singing, dancing and acting – which we needed with Bethany Bean as our vocal director and Anni Ulman as our choreographer.”
As much as it’s filled with humor, color and big-stage musical numbers, “Beauty and the Beast” also carries a timeless message – one that Rogers is hoping the audience comes away with.
“I seem to run a certain theme in the shows I direct, which is ‘Never judge a book by its cover,’ ” Rogers said. “Things are never what they seem. That’s certainly the message here. I think a psychologist would have a field day trying to decipher why I love these kind of stories. Maybe it’s because I come across as big and gruff, but as my daughter would tell you, I’m just a big teddy bear.”
Photo by Richard Lim Photography. Visit them by clicking here.