Countless kids watched the story of Belle and Beast, but the Spanish Springs production will be fairly different from the tale they have all become accustomed to.
“Beauty and the Beast Junior is slightly different from the movie, which is good for the kids, that way they’re not anticipating everything,” said senior Haley Gardner, who is a narrator and ballroom dancer in the production. “There’s a couple of differences. (Theater teacher and director Sarah) Bogard has done another twist adding a sense of reality to it and kind of keeping the darkness at the beginning so it’s more interesting. Then you still have your lovable characters like Cogsworth and Lumiere, who are just as fun as always.”
Making the show their own has been a process for the Spanish Springs crew.
“It’s been interesting because it’s such a popular film that you want to keep close to everything, but you want to put your own spin on it,” student director Katie Bidart said. “All of our main characters look the same. They have the same costumes and the same voices, but then we put our own little spin on some things. Our wardrobe for example, she has a bright blue wig and it’s really cute. And then our sets, getting to make our own sets and trying to make this beautiful castle on stage was such a challenge but we have a great director and she’s got a good eye for that stuff.”
Taking into consideration the minor alterations to the play, the significance behind the legend will remain the same — which was the main reason “Beauty and the Beast” was selected.
“We chose it because it has a great message,” Bogard said. “The inner message is to, I think, accept everything unconditionally, all species throughout the world. Even though this is a very playful and a very well-known and loved cartoon, I think there’s more depth behind all of it and a great message for all of the kids. It’s a lot of fun. When I spoke to my students, this is the one they really wanted to do.”
Part of the reason the students wanted to recreate the Disney tale so badly was the sentiment behind it.
“We definitely got the morals through in the play,” Gardner said. “From the play in itself, from the characters, the big thing is first impressions aren’t always correct. Through the story itself we are able to convey that.”
Getting the message across in the play was key to the cast and crew, but they also made sure to take in the experience of reenacting the famous romance.
“I’ve always loved Belle,” sophomore Ambrosia Romo, who plays Belle, said. “Belle was my favorite princess as a kid so this is like a dream come true, kind of. I’m always the one that’s staring at the clouds. I’m always the one smelling the roses off to the side of the road. I’m that kind of person. I love to read, I love a lot of the things Belle loves and I’m very strong as far as my personality, too. So it was easy to connect with that. It’s exciting.”
Romo was not the only one soaking in the opportunity to play dress-up, but for others taking on the roles was a strange experience.
“I never thought I’d be playing Gaston because you kind of always hated Gaston in the movie,” senior Alec Harris said. “I hope that I can get people to hate me in a way. I’ve always loved this movie. I remember some parts of the movie being scary and I think we do a good job of making those scenes scary in the play.”
Performances of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” will be staged in the Spanish Springs theater at 7 p.m. today, as well as April 20, 26, 27, 28 and at 1 p.m. on April 21, along with a character breakfast from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in which fans will have a chance to meet their favorite Disney characters. Tickets will cost $12 for general admission, while tickets for students, Washoe County School District employees and senior citizens cost $9. Tickets can be purchased at showtix4u.com
With the curtains set to open, the Spanish Springs group is eager to share their version of the story.
“I am excited for everyone to see it,” junior Gianna Kozel said. “It’s our last show so it’s a bittersweet thing, but it is sweet. I’m really excited that this is the show that we get to go off with: a classic Disney tale. I like it.”