Kevin Rogers has been looking forward to tonight for a long time.
As the director of the Community Theatre of Howell’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” he’s been preparing for the show for well over a year. Then came auditions in August, followed by two-and-a-half months of intensive rehearsals.
And it all comes together tonight: Opening Night.
“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.”
“Beauty and the Beast” opens tonight at the Howell High School Freshman Campus, and runs this weekend and next. Shows are tonight, Saturday and Sunday, and Nov. 18-20.
Rogers has been a mainstay on the CTH stage for almost a decade as both an actor and director. “Beauty and the Beast” is the third show he’s directed for the group (following “Aladdin Jr.” and “Young Frankenstein”), and he’s acted in many more.
Most recently, he was seen in last spring’s “A Few Good Men,” drawing rave reviews for his performance as Col. Nathan Jessup.
“Directing a show is a different kind of high,” Rogers said. “When I’m in a show, I love getting the attention. When I direct, it’s all about making the cast look good so they can get all the love.”
Theater has long been a family affair for Rogers, and this show is no different. His wife, Theresia, is a co-producer, while daughter Tori is in the cast, playing Babette. Rogers got involved in CTH like a lot of theater junkies – through his child.
“I got roped in like any other dad,” he said. “My daughter was a munchkin in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and she wanted me to audition. I had just started a new job, though, and didn’t have the time. So I told her, ‘Maybe the next one.’ That was ‘Escanaba in da Moonlight.’ I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Rogers has had his eye on directing “Beauty and the Beast” for a long time, and when the show came available, he jumped at the chance. He loves the story and the message.
“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.”
As for what the audience can expect when the show opens tonight, Rogers said, “expect the unexpected.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
Performances of “Beauty and the Beast” are Nov. 11-13 and 18-20 at the Howell High School Freshman Campus, 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.
Photo by Richard Lim Photography. Visit them be clicking here.