A tale as old as time is set to sweep into Red Deer.
A gossiping French village from a bygone era, a forbidden west wing, an enchanted chipped tea cup — they will all come to life at the Memorial Centre from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7.
Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School presents its live performance of the classic French fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, a musical bursting with the talents of many young, first-time actors.
“In terms of set, costumes, it’s much more elaborate and fantastical than our previous shows,” said Tara Koett, Thurber’s drama teacher and the musical director. “We have a group of student technicians and some parent volunteers who have worked tirelessly and enthusiastically to create some amazing sets, props and costumes.”
The show entails an array of dance numbers, special effects and even fight choreography, making for an event that covers a “wide breadth of entertainment,” Koett said.
About 80 adolescents from Grade 9 to 12 are involved in the production from acting to band to lighting and sound. Many of them are in Grade 10, resulting in a much younger cast than previous ones, Koett said.
First-time actor Sam Vesely, 16, who has already made a name for himself on the football field, stars as the character of talking candelabra Lumière.
“I wanted to try out for the play last time just because it looked so fun but I was too busy with football. This year, I still wanted to do it so badly I thought what the heck I’d try doing both and honestly I just love it. You get to run around, sing songs and hang out with a lot of cool people,” said Vesely, a Grade 11 student. “Singing is actually one of my secret ambitions.”
Haley McLean, 16, is one of the actors who shares the role of Belle. A first-timer on the stage, she said she never expected to be the lead when she tried out.
“I’ve always loved singing and the idea of acting; I’d just never got into it. This year, I thought I’d just go for it. Sharing the role is fun, too, because I get to do ensemble parts as well as some Belle parts,” she said. “It can be a bit overwhelming when you first try lines but it gets better with time.”
Auditions took place last spring and the troupe has been rehearsing since September.
The play was a unique challenge for the all the young actors, Koett said, as many are too young to have grown up watching the popularized Walt Disney take on the fairy tale.
“The sincerity of the characters was a big one in this play. There’s lots of students who have never seen the Disney movie so they could really make the characters their own and for those that had seen it, they had the challenge of taking the character off the page and not doing just an impersonation of an animated character. … It’s been really cool to watch the students discover their characters motivations and make them into real, believable people.”
This is Koett’s third time directing a full-scale, live production with the school.
She was behind last year’s satirical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Footloose in 2010.
“Year after year, I’m just humbled and grateful for all the support from parents and staff and the students themselves. It’s a huge show and a huge undertaking and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all come together,” she said.
Tickets are $15 each and available by visiting the community programs office at the school.
For more information about tickets, call 403-342-1059.