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'Beauty and the Beast' casts a spell over Maryland Theatre audience

April 29, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Julia Thompson as Belle and Ryan Smetzer as Gaston perform Sunday during Barbara Ingram School for the Arts' production of "Beauty and the Beast" at the Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The crowd at The Maryland Theatre was sprinkled with little girls on Sunday afternoon, apropos for a musical about a Disney princess, Belle of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Despite the hairy “Beast” with horns and a growl, some of the little girls said he was their favorite character in the Disney musical.

The Beast was Chloe Dorsey’s favorite character, though the 6-year-old Smithsburg resident admitted she liked everything about the show produced by Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in downtown Hagerstown.

Chloe’s grandmother, or “Nanny,” Donna Smith, said she loved the show. It was the first Ingram show she had seen, Smith said.

“I like the Beast,” said Caroline Fleming, 5, of Charlottesville, Va.

Caroline was seeing the show during a visit with her grandmother, Deb Elwood of Clear Spring.

“It was great, and I’m happy to see the theater is full. It’s always a pleasure to come to The Maryland Theatre,” Elwood said.

More than 1,100 people were at Sunday’s matinee of “Beauty and the Beast,” said Director Ruth Ridenour, who is director of theater arts at Ingram.

The show will continue next weekend with showings at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Ridenour said. On Saturday, starting at 1:30 p.m., there will be a street fair in front of the theater featuring children’s activities, Ridenour said. The fair will raise money for the arts school.

Before Sunday’s show, Ridenour went over notes with her cast and crew, including reminding at least one character not to hold a “torch” under the chin.

There were students onstage and in the musical pit, and students helped with wardrobe, sets and makeup.

Ingram senior Nichole Lambert, 18, had a part in the musical, as well as the responsibility of putting on the Beast’s prosthetics and makeup.

North Hagerstown High graduate Jennifer Rosensteel had been handling the duties, but wasn’t going to be available for at least one of the shows, so Nichole was handling the job Sunday as Rosensteel gave her tips for when she would be on her own.

Senior Julia Thompson, 17, said her favorite part about playing Belle came after the shows, when she met the little girls in the audience.

“It’s magical being able to see all of them smiling and making their, I guess, their dream come true meeting a Disney princess,” Thompson said.

Hannah Webster, 7, of Fairplay, said her favorite character was Belle because she was smart, kind, loves everyone and loves books.

“It’s great. It’s amazing it’s a high school production,” said Hannah’s mom, Tina Webster.

Carly Masters, 3, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., told her mom, Mandy Masters, that her favorite part was when “Beauty” was in the castle.

At the show with Carly and her mom were Carly’s big sister, Lexi, 6 — who also liked Belle, and their grandma, Pam Mills.

“Whenever Belle went to dinner” was Hailey Stoner’s favorite part of Act I. That included the song “Be Our Guest,” which earned an enthusiastic reception from the audience.

Hailey, 9, attended the show with her mother, Melissa, and brother, Jacob, 7.

“I just love the whole thing,” said Melissa Stoner.

Stoner said she got the video of the movie when her oldest child, now 15, was a baby.

“I know all the words,” said Melissa Stoner, who warned her daughter she might embarrass her by singing along to the musical.

Stoner said she did do a little singing, though quietly.

Claire Seibert, 9, of Hagerstown, said her favorite part was at the end when the spell was broken and Belle and Beast like each other.

Claire and her sister, Megan, 7, said they have seen the movie many times.

At intermission, Megan was still trying to figure out how a character rose off the stage and appeared to hover in midair at the beginning of the musical.

“I think the students are doing a spectacular job. It’s hard to believe that they’re only in high school,” said Melanie Seibert, Claire and Megan’s mother.

Four-year-old twins Cecelia and Thomas Elliott said they liked the mean guy, but they were talking about different characters.

Cecelia liked Beast, while Thomas liked Gaston, who also was “the muscle man.”

Their older sister, Charlotte Elliott, 6, who had been sitting in dad David’s lap, liked the dancing.

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