FLT invites public to ‘be our guest’ for Beauty & the Beast
By BRENDA HARRISON Editor of The News Journal Florence, S.C. The “tale as old as time” comes to the Florence Little Theatre when “Beauty and the Beast” opens the 2017-18 season this Friday night. The musical runs Sept. 8-17, excluding Monday, Sept. 11. It is underwritten by Wells Fargo.
Performances start at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. There are matinees on Sunday, Sept. 10 and Sunday, Sept. 17, at 3 p.m.
A special event, Tea with Belle, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each. Seating is very limited. Call or visit the box office for reservations.
“Beauty and the Beast” is a classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed into his former self.
Favorite songs include “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song “Beauty and the Beast.” This musical is a must-see for the whole family.
The production is directed by Julia Saverance with Robin Thompson as musical director. Will Bynum is assistant director, Brittany Miles is choreographer, and Glen Gourley handled musical staging.
”I directed the show in 2006 when FLT did the Broadway version for the first time, and was delighted to be asked to do it a second time,” commented the director. “One of my favorites, this is a story for all ages – complete with talking, dancing, and singing objects, a villain, a beautiful girl, and a beast.
“The cast has been delightful to work with. They have worked hard and can’t wait to show the community what they have been doing for the past two and a half months. Of the more than 100 people who auditioned, 39 were cast. As always, casting is extremely difficult because so many talented people tried out and you just can’t cast everyone.”
The show features veteran performers as well as many new faces, she said.
“One newcomer, Devin Jennings, is playing the role of Belle. She has captured Belle’s strength and acceptance of others. She has the voice of an angel and high kicks that hurt my hips. The audience will be tapping their toes and bobbing their heads throughout the show.
“Amanda Graham (Mrs. Potts), Mike Pickett (Maurice) and Brandon Herron (Gaston) are also new to the FLT stage and we are excited to share their talents with the community,” Saverance added.
Joey Webster plays the Beast. Lumiere is portrayed by Cole Davis, Cogsworth is Frankie Sullivan and Lefou is played by Justin Johnson. Babette is Emily Coker and Msr. Darque is Kevin Carter. Wardrobe is Tippi Harwell and Chip is Rufus Brown. Erin Dozier, Nikki Frabott and Faith Hyman portray silly girls.
The chorus includes Cathryn Ackerman, Drew Arnold, Leranda Saverance, Kaylen Snapp, Joshua Byram, Elizabeth Taylor, Alonzo Davis, Sam Densmore, Ray Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Tripp Taylor, Heather Ward, James Wesley Hanna, Ihlonda Harrell, Amber Wilkes, Dylan Hudson, Alexandria Yarnell, Cliff Jones, Brittany Yarnell, RJ Lee, Nick Rose, Samantha McCutcheon, Destiny Nwankudu, Kendrell Parker and Jane Polsky.
“The sets are incredible,” said Julia. “Lisa Sims and Thomas Walker have done a phenomenal job, and I have to say the castle...well...I don’t want to give it away.
“Of course, I would not have been able to do this without the help of an amazing production team,” she continued.
The production staff also includes Ginger Sullivan, assistant to the director, and David Boyd, stage manager. Betty Fowler is props coordinator and set decorator. Costume coordinators are Kitty Murrell and Abby Mills. Arlene Boyd is makeup coordinator and Sarah Ellen Hennings is light board operator.
“Between the cast and the production team, they have made this experience one to remember.“
She added, “Leave the world behind and come spend an evening with us at FLT. You won't regret it.”
The recommended age for children is 8 and older.
The show runs 2.5 hours.
Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors 62 and older and $18 for students or under 18.
There are four ways to get tickets.
• Online at www.florencelittletheatre.org. • In-person noon-5 p.m., Monday-Friday at the daytime box office (located in the rear parking lot.)
• Phone (843) 662-3731, noon to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.
• At the door, starting one hour before showtime at the lobby box office (nearest the corner of S. Dargan and Pine Street.)
Musicals are often sold out in advance. Check the FaceBook page for ticket availability updates or listen to the box office message (843) 662-3731.