Theatre — Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

By Michelle Saturley

Tale as old as time on a local stage

Young Peacock Players to take on Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast 

It’s one of Disney’s most revered motion pictures, and a Tony-award-winning stage show. Now, the Peacock Players, Nashua’s own award-winning youth theater company, takes on Beauty and the Beast at the 14 Court Street Theater, starting May 20.

If you haven’t seen the movie (which you should — immediately after reading this article), Disney’s animators and resident composers took the classic fairytale and added enchanted objects and humorous, catchy music.

The show focuses on the love story between bookish, independent Belle and the grouchy, hard-hearted Beast. They meet when Belle’s mad scientist father wanders into the Beast’s gloomy castle one night, looking for shelter. Instead, the Beast tosses him in a dungeon. Belle finds her father and begs the Beast to take her instead. Though Belle is repulsed by her furry warden at first, she soon begins to look beneath his freakish exterior and finds a kind, gentle and misunderstood person.

Some of the songs in the show include “Belle,” in which Belle laments the provincial, close-minded town where she resides, “Be Our Guest,” in which the enchanted objects in the Beast’s castle express their gratitude at having Belle there to wait on; and “Gaston,” a very funny song sung by macho man Gaston’s little flunkie, LeFou. There are also a few songs in the stage show that are not in the film, including “Home,” and “If I Can’t Love Her.”

According to Tim L’Ecuyer, producer at Peacock Productions, the entrie board was on “rights watch” when they heard that the show was ending its national tour, thus freeing its performing rights to local theater companies.

“We were on the Internet every day, waiting for word,” he said.

Once the Players procured the rights to do the show, the next question was whether or not to purchase the Disney costumes that accompany the show.

“We decided instead to build our own costumes for the most part,” L’Ecuyer said. “We have a resident costumer and makeup artist who did an amazing job on our last show, The Hobbit. They felt they were up for the task.”

The Peacock Players gave a sneak preview of the show at the Nashua Library on May 14, to positive reviews. The show opens in earnest on Friday, May 20 at 7 p.m.

“The kids are ready,” L’Ecuyer said. “We’ve been rehearsing since February so they could get a grasp on the music. They’re ready to put this in front of an audience.”

All of the players are children. The youngest is eight years old and the most senior player is 19. The show is directed by award-winning local director Brett Mallard, who also directed Actorsingers’ version of Ragtime and the New England Academy of Music and Drama’s Wit. Resident musical director Judy Hayward also returns to helm the musical numbers of the show. Veteran choreographer Bethany Cassidy joins Hayward and Mallard.

The Peacock Players’ version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast plays May 20, 21 and 22 at the 14 Court Street Theater in Nashua. For tickets and show times, call the box office at 886-7000 or visit peacockplayers.org.

-Michelle Saturley

 
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