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‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’ community production at Lyme

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By KATHERINE CLARK TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHAUMONT — A week of music, acting, creativity and dance are going into bringing the Disney play “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” to life on the Lyme Central School stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

“The final product will look like a play made entirely by the kids,” said play director Scott R. Taylor. Mr. Taylor said the audience will see the hard work the kids put in and see it’s truly their show. “We’re hoping parents and audience will love it.”

“Beauty and the Beast” is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town in France, and the Beast, a young prince under a spell to make him look like a monster. If the Beast can learn to love, the curse will end. If he does not learn his lesson, he and his household of cursed servants trapped as household objects will never be changed back to human form.

Mr. Taylor said the performance will include all the “Tale as Old As Time” songs, with dance numbers by Belle and the Beast, the “enchanted” household items like Cogsworth the clock and Lumiere the candelabra, village members and more.

Mr. Taylor said he chose the play because the summertime was a good time to bring in a big name show that allows for actors of all skill levels to participate. He said it also would be easier to cast.

About 30 children have been attending the five-day drama camp that began Monday. The free camp was open to any child, local or visiting, to join. Lyme Elementary Principal Barry K. Davis said kids attending the camp are from Lyme, South Jefferson, General Brown and Thousand Islands central schools and Watertown City School District. Even a Fairport Central School student visiting for the summer joined the fun.

Mr. Davis, who will make a special appearance in the performance as Belle’s father, the inventor Maurice, said the summer program is a great opportunity for kids from the area to take over the school’s gymnasium without conflict from other student organizations. He said it also gives the students a chance to work with children from outside the district.

He said the collaboration with the school, members of the Lyric Theater, including Mr. Taylor and Jon Cole of Antwerp as the music director, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension after-school program was going to make the play stage-ready by Friday.

The main characters were cast after auditions on June 16 at Lyme Central School for students age 8 and older who wanted to participate. Those characters were given scripts to read over the summer and last week they came in for a read-through. But he said Monday was every cast member’s first day of rehearsal together.

“Everything is going to happen now; it’s go, go, go for the whole week and then they will perform on Friday,” Mr. Taylor said.

Mitch A. McCormick from Cornell Cooperative Extension recruited children from the Lyme summer program to create the props, backdrops and the costumes. The Lyme students from the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s summer program, a summer extension of their afterschool program, used the week of July 21 through 25 to make everything at Lyme.

“I think they’re excited they get to design a lot of props,” Mr. McCormick said. “The creative kids are more excited to see the stuff they made up on the stage.”

Mr. McCormick said his 65 students in the afterschool program were dedicating this week to creating the play materials. For most of the enchanted household items, he said the actors will wear black pants and white shirts and hold the costumes made from cardboard and paint in front of them. Some of the props the children are making include loaves of bread, roses and trees.

“Everything happening with this play is happening now out of Lyme,” Mr. McCormick said. He said it’s a tall order but he thinks the kids will do a good job.

Monday morning, Mr. Taylor started the 26 students castmemberswith an exercise to act out different tales like “Snow White” and “Shrek” in short bursts of time.

“The first round they get two minutes, then one minute, 30 seconds and 15 seconds,” Mr. Taylor said. “It gets them laughing and working together.”

After a short break the entire cast got together to do a read-through. Mr. Taylor said throughout the week the students will be dedicated to learning lines and music.

Playing the lead role of Belle, Paige M. Kappus-Kron, who graduated from Lyme in June , said she had always wanted to play the part. She said Belle is a “nice girl, book worm, nerdy” Disney princess.

“She’s one of those Disney princesses you can look up to,” Miss Kappus-Kron said. “I’m happy with the role.”

She said there are several differences from the classic animated story people remember and the play they will see on Friday night.

“The song “Human Again” is a lot bigger in the play and another song, “Home,” isn’t in the movie at all,” Miss Kappus-Kron said.

She said the ages represented in the cast also will be a treat.

“We have a good mix of kids, people will like how spanned out the everyone is from kindergarten to freshman in college,” Miss Kappus-Kron said. “It would be cool if the community came out to see all the work we put into this show.”

Joseph R. Paladino, a senior at Lyme Central School, will play the Beast. He said the play will be a great way for area residents to spend their Friday night.

“It might be a fun night to come and watch,” he said.

Admission to the play is $7.

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