CLASSIC TALE - Cornerstone Youth Theatre members from left

Cornerstone Youth Theatre presents Beauty and the Beast

Red Deer audiences will soon have the chance to be charmed by the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, thanks to the talents of Cornerstone Youth Theatre.

Directed by guest director Jessica Belisle, the production features a cast of 62 students and a crew of 25 with Ceanna McKee cast as Belle and Reid Mills as the Beast. Rounding out the team are Laurette Woodward as musical director, Ashley Miller who is serving as the vocal coach and choreographer Tori Grebinski.

This particular version of the show is from Russel House Productions.

Cast and crew are thrilled with the opportunity to present this family-friendly, musical show which opens on Nov. 6th and runs through to Nov. 14th.

Evening shows run at 7 p.m. on Nov. 6th-7th, 13-14th, with matinees at 3 p.m. on Nov. 7th and Nov. 14th.

The show takes place at New Life Fellowship Church.

Belisle, who is based in Spokane, has known Cornerstone Artistic Director Stephanie Orr for many years. The chance came up for her to head north and direct the talented troupe, and she was excited for the opportunity.

She was involved in a Spokane program that was similar to Cornerstone as well. “Stephanie was a staff member there when I was young and I grew up doing theatre there. I also knew her daughter, and we’ve kept in contact over the years.”

Currently, she’s involved with a theatre group in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and hopes to one day launch her own venture.

Orr eventually invited her to Red Deer to oversee Beauty and the Beast, and it’s not only been a hoot but also a rich learning experience as well. “It’s been going really, really well,” she said. “Good kids, good families – a really talented group.”

The classic Beauty and the Beast story tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out.

If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity, as they are gradually turning from humans into castle objects – a teapot, a clock, a candlestick, and much more!

As for guiding along a comparatively large cast, Belisle said it takes quite a bit of pre-planning. “We think about how we can ‘layer’ these kids in to make them look good – to make it look structured and in unison,” she explained. Musicals also lend themselves well to large casts – there is lots of room for the youth to be featured and with the right choreography, the visual results can be magical as well.

Seeing young actors truly connect with their characters is also a very fulfilling thing for a director, she said. “They’re invested in sort of an emotional way, separate from learning lines and knowing (other aspects) of the play. They’re opening up themselves to feeling things. That’s encouraging, because you don’t always get that with younger performers because it can be harder for them to make that connection emotionally.

“But with this group, they’ve really strongly been doing that.”

As to the story, even though this one isn’t the Disney version, the themes of the classic story shine through and of course resonate strongly with audiences around the world.

“It’s an endearing story,” she said. Belle decides to open up her heart and mind to the Beast, even though he isn’t the nicest of chaps to start with. “She decides to accept him and kind of befriend him and that’s a new spin on it. She still chooses to give him a chance. That’s endearing, because it goes further than most stories do.

“Love transforms us. And that kind of gives hope to everyone,” she said, adding that the themes speak to our nature as having that desire to be loved, and to have someone who can help us to be better and more beautiful inside and out.

And from the Beast’s perspective, his friends are always urging him to be kind and to be gentle and to be Belle’s friend.

“That’s a great reminder that the kinder you are, the more likely you are to find love and friendship.”

Meanwhile, tickets for Beauty and the Beast may be purchased online at www.CornerstoneYouthTheatre.org or by phoning the box office at 403-986-­2981.

For more information, check out www.CornerstoneYouthTheatre.org or email Office@CornerstoneYouthTheatre.org.

editor@reddeerexpress.com