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Disney dreams come true on 'Beauty and the Beast'

November 29, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Rehearsing for Old Opera House's production of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," knives, forks and other actors cast as place settings did jumping jacks while singing "Be Our Guest."

Director Steven Brewer and Charles W. Johnson, the play's choreographer and musical director, are bringing the animated Disney film to life. It debuts Friday and will run through Sunday, Dec. 16.

Spreading the "magic of Disney" on stage takes a lot of work, Johnson said. The jumping jacks were a drill for practicing having to move and sing simultaneously.

"You can't pull out the Disney movie and watch the choreography because Mrs. Potts ... she doesn't have feet or legs, neither does Lumiere," Johnson said. "Here they've got feet and legs, so I've got to come up with the choreography."

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During a rehearsal weeks before opening night, actors waltzed across the stage, some of them forming a kick line, singing and flashing smiles wide enough to show teeth, while Johnson clanged away on a keyboard in the orchestra pit.

"Right now it's all the little nit-picky details that take it from 'Oh, that's an OK show' to 'Wow, that's a great show,'" Johnson said during the rehearsal.

Ashley Sherry-Snow, a 22-year-old alto from Ranson, W.Va., has been easing into her role as Belle, dyeing her blond tresses a deep auburn.

Sherry-Snow said it was the first time she's done "Beauty and the Beast." Her only basis for comparison for the stage version comes from watching her brother play Lumiere in a high school production years ago.

"I'm very excited to be playing Belle," Sherry-Snow said. "It was always a dream of mine to be a Disney voice."

Sherry-Snow will sound a little different than the movie version of Belle because she'll be doing songs the animated character did not do. The stage musical has additional tunes written especially for the theatrical production.

"Beauty and the Beast" debuted on Broadway in 1994. People have mixed feelings about Disney coming to Broadway, said Johnson, 32, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

"Some people say Disney took theater on Broadway to a little more pageantry than it should be," Johnson said. "But some people like pageantry. If it's a pageant show, embrace it as a pageant show."




If you go ...



WHAT: "Disney's Beauty and the Beast"

WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 16, with shows at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.

WHERE: 204 N. George St., Charles Town, W.Va.

COST: $12 for Thursday shows; $16 for Friday and Saturday shows; $14 for Sunday shows; $8 for students at any show

MORE: For ticket information, call 304-725-4420 or go to www.oldoperahouse.org.

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