KANSAS - The need for tolerance, the dangers of bullying and the importance of looking beyond appearances are themes woven into the popular story of "Beauty and The Beast." Lakota High School is staging this musical fairy tale at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
This to be the first major stage production in the new school building on CR 13 in Kansas.
As the curtain rises, the narrator shares the story of the proud young prince who refuses hospitality to a beggar woman seeking shelter. An enchantress in disguise, she casts a spell on the bully prince and all who dwell in his palace.
The prince is changed into a beast and the inhabitants become household objects and furniture. Leaving behind a magic rose, the enchantress decrees the prince can break the spell only if he can establish an unselfish love with another person before all the petals have fallen from the rose. A dense forest conceals the castle from the nearby towns, so the prince falls into bitter despair and self-loathing.
The action shifts to a quaint village on the outskirts of the woods. The town square bustles with activity. A young woman, Belle, is different from the other villagers. Having read exciting stories in books, she longs for a more interesting life for herself, away from the sleepy village where she lives with her eccentric, inventor father, Maurice.
When Gaston, the most eligible bachelor in the village proposes to Belle, she declines the offer, unwilling to take on the typical role of the "little wife."
Emily Ritter, Gabe Sanchez and Gunnar Lentz are cast as Belle, Maurice and Gaston, respectively. Jordan Harrison portrays Lefou, Gaston's sidekick. Elizabeth Graber, Kyleigh Harrison and Lauren Raymond are the women who flirt with Gaston.
The father and daughter are regarded as misfits because of their scholarly ways.
The arrogant Gaston is used to getting his way by bullying anyone and everyone. He decides he deserves to marry the prettiest woman in town.
Belle gives Maurice a scarf for good luck taking his latest invention to the county fair, but the scarf does not protect him from wolves or from the Beast, played by Nathan Ray.
When Maurice turns up at the castle, the Beast imprisons the old man.
Inside the spellbound mansion, Maurice is amazed at Cogsworth and Lumiere, the talking clock and candelabra, portrayed by Jessica Walter and Brett Welly, respectively.
Lumiere makes an effort to retain his human characteristics even as they slip away. If the spell is not broken, they will turn into "things" with no compassion or reason. Belle's appearance to rescue her father stirs hope. Because she wants to trade her freedom for her ailing father's release. Belle tolerates the Beast's demand she stay in the castle forever.
Trying to make the best of the situation, Lumiere and Cogsworth introduce Belle to the other residents: Mrs. Potts (Abigail Wasserman) and Chip (Barden Schaser and Samantha Rickard), Babette (Courtney Chalfin) and the opera singer turned wardrobe, Madame de la Grande Bouche (Samantha Flechtner).
In the kitchen, all the dinnerware and utensils entertain Belle with song and dance, "Be Our Guest."
The Beast is faced with his final chance to redeem himself and the other palace residents by making himself loveable to Belle, but he has no idea how to do that. He must humble himself and take advice from his faithful servants on how to woo Belle.
For her part, Belle demands respect from her new master. Eventually, she is able to see his vulnerable side and soften her feelings toward him. In turn, the Beast comes to understand Belle's beauty is internal as well as external.
Just when their relationship seems to be blooming, the Beast releases Belle to return to her father. At the same time, Gaston hatches a plan to have Maurice committed to an insane asylum by the sleazy Msr. D'Arque (David Murphy). A mob rushes off to kill the beast with Belle close behind to stop them.
Just when it appears all is lost, her expression of love is able to save the Beast and break the spell.
Tickets for "Beauty and the Beast" are $8 for adults and $5 for students. For reservations or information, call (419) 986-6620.