'Beauty and the Beast' enchants Williamsport

March 30, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

The Williamsport High School stage has been transformed into an enchanted world where teacups talk, candlesticks act as matchmakers and a beautiful girl falls in love with a horrible beast.

The school's theater department has pulled out all the stops to bring "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" to life March 31 through April 9.

A full-stage castle that moves back and forth, flying equipment, magic effects rented from a Las Vegas magician, fog, strobe and rain lights and costuming that transforms high school students into enchanted characters such as a motherly teapot and a cautious clock are some of the special touches that make this production a must-see, says Ruth Ridenour, director of the show.

"I guarantee that no one will see a high school production like this," she says. "There will be nothing like this because most people will not spend what we have spent on this."


Ridenour, who has directed plays for 28 years, says the show is the biggest production she's ever done. In 2002, Williamsport High School staged "Peter Pan" complete with flying equipment, at a cost of more than $13,000. "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" will cost twice as much, Ridenour says.

The high school will be the first one in the county to stage the love story based on the Disney version of the tale.

More than 50 community and parent volunteers have worked to help put on the show, and about 45 students are involved in the production, Ridenour says.

Stephen Manley and Alisha Eberhart, who play the Beast and Belle, say playing the characters they loved as children is a dream come true.

"I watched (the animated movie) 'Beauty and the Beast' when I was a little kid," Manley says. "I always dreamed of being covered in hair and playing this part." Transforming himself into a vicious monster has been a challenge for the high school senior whose speaking voice has a natural tenor pitch. He's worked to make his voice deeper and to perfect beastly yells and growls.

Eberhart says she sees a role model in the show's main character, Belle.

"She's a very self-sufficient woman and headstrong. She sees what's inside of people instead of what's on the outside," Eberhart says.

"Disney's Beauty and the Beast" tells the story of a prince, transformed into a beast after he refuses shelter to an enchantress, disguised as a beggar. The prince, his castle and his staff are put under a spell that can be broken only when the beast learns to love and can earn the love of another in return.

The cast of Williamsport High School's "Beauty and the Beast" includes: Alisha Eberhart as Belle; Miles Stewart as Maurice; Stephen Manley as the Beast; Braden Myers as Gaston; Stacy Ingraham as Babette; Betty Pompell as Mrs. Potts; Ed Schubel as Lumiere; Brett Rowland as Cogsworth; Zac Burger as Lafou; Kari Smith as Madame De La Grand Bouche; Mike Schubel as D'Arque/Bookseller; Conner Thomas as Chip; Julie Cook, Lauren Clark and Ashley O'Connell as Silly Girls; Alisa Dawson as Rug; Callie Giles as Enchantress.

The ensemble cast of town people, enchanted objects and dancers includes: April Luhn, Dan Hayes, Katelyn McGinley, Kelsi Phillips, Grant Smith, Shannon Draper, Stacy Green, Kaitlyn Moberly, Earl Blanchard, Tylor Githens, Gary Eichelberger, Felicia Dagenhart, Emily Tritsch, Travis Ware, Marquis Clever, Erica Conrad, Angie Rhoton, Haley Baker, Terra Babbie, Hannah Garling, Alison Wigfield and Kathleen Murtagh.

Crew members include: Blaine Smith, Scott Wigfield, Cindy Dawson, Les Tritch, Phil O'Connell, Ed Hayes, Diane Manley, Ginger Smith, Suzanne Wigfield, Molly Ingraham, Cynthia Eberhart, James Eberhart, Dan Hayes, Gary Eichelberger, Betty Eichelberger, Charlie Ware, Pam Ware, Tina Draper, Christie Toloso, Glenda Grimm, Jeanette Robinson, Kristy Thomas, Cindy Brantner, Kelsey Brantner, Stewart Githens, Emily Clark, Dave Clark, Cinnamon Rowland, Tina Dagenhart, Ron Myers, Bill Cook, Ann Cook, Bob Pompell, Angie Stone, Diane Rhoton, Connie Giles, Jane Smith, Charles Smith, Bonnie Brown, Linda Tritch, Dale Ingraham, Kristy Beatty, Connie McAlister, Lindsey Britner, Kayla Peterson, Bethany Foltz, Randy Leonard, Stephen Manley, Michael Schubel, Hank Mills, Dan Myers, Jonas Dawson, Phil Taylor, Doris Hoopengardner, Eli Baker, Kelsey Brantner, Devin Gaither, Carla Gonzalez, Chris Kelly, Ryan Lee, Ben Martin, Ashley Plume, Keely Warfield, John Rowland and Carol Rowland.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Disney's Beauty and the Beast"

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, March 31 and April 7; Saturdays, April 1 and 8; 2:30 p.m. Sundays, April 2 and 9; and 1 p.m. Saturday, April 8

WHERE: Williamsport High School, 5 S. Clifton Drive, Williamsport

COST: $9 or $10. Children ages 12 and younger receive a $1 discount on tickets for the 1 p.m. April 8 performance.

DIRECTIONS: From Hagerstown take U.S. 11 south toward

Williamsport. Turn left onto Clifton Drive.

MORE: For more information or to reserve tickets, call 301-766-8433.

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