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Friday, May 6, 2016

'Beauty and the Beast' a delight for the whole family

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Cherokee Community Theater has done it again.

Now in its 50th anniversary season, the dedicated troupe of theater-lovers has produced another classic musical production. "Beauty and the Beast," based on the hit Disney animated film of 1991, but enhanced with additional songs, was a hit on Broadway, and now it's a hit on Cherokee's West Bluff Street, too.

(Photo)
Lumiere, center, played by John Bieber, sings "Be My Guest" to castle guest Belle (Liz Kempfert, right), accompanied by a variety of tableware and kitchen utensils. To Belle's right, Mrs. Potts (Debbie Bailey) and her son Chip ( Darby Baillie, in cup on table) join in the welcome, as does Wardrobe (Cheryl Ellis, on balcony). Photo by Dan Whitney.
Directed by Ruth Hayes and Jackie Courtright, with musical direction by Joe Vannatta, the large cast allows many community members - including children of all ages - to take part in the theatrical experience and hopefully instill a life-long love of the theater and the arts in general in the youngsters.

The lead performers bring some of the best singing voices around to the production. Many Cherokeans are familiar with the magnificent singing voice of Blake Burroughs, of course, and he brings that vocal talent as well as a convincing swagger to the role of the braggadocious blowhard Gaston in this production.

Ryan Brown, who was so memorable as the Cowardly Lion in the CCT's production of The Wizard of Oz a couple of years back, dons animal clothing again to give another memorable performance in the title role - the Beast, not Beauty.

The "Beauty" of the title brings a delightful new addition to the cast of CCT performers - Liz Kempfert of Storm Lake. Kempfert, who is married to Aurelia native Brian Kempfert, brings just the right touch of youth and beauty to the role of Belle, not to mention a fabulous singing voice.

Speaking of young , Cherokee Washington High student John Bieber shines as Lumiere, a young man who has turned into a candleholder by a witch's spell. Also standing out in their supporting roles are Andrew Lefleur as Cogsworth, who has been turned into a clock, and Debbie Bailey as Mrs. Potts, who's now a teapot. Special kudos to Debbie for getting around the stage in what looks to be a difficult costume in which to do so. At least she gets to sing the title tune as reward. Cheryl Ellis plays the opera singer who's been turned into a wardrobe, and she gets to show her drawers (sorry about that). Eric Boisen plays LeFou, who is Gaston's drinking buddy and staunch supporter. Dave Hickman plays Maurice, Belle's father, who is confused and disheveled throughout the play. Hickman did his preparation for this by serving as a high school principal for many years.

By all means, if you love musical theater, you owe it to yourself to catch the CCT production of "Beauty and the Beast." You have three more chances to do so, as the production will be presented at the Community Center on Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m., with a final performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

For more photos from the CCT production, go to the Beauty and the Beast Photo Gallery.



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