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‘Beauty’ boasts two casts, Disney-style fun

Folsom Lake Entertainer
By: Don Chaddock, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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“Disney’s Beauty & the Beast,” featuring two casts — dubbed rose and mirror — comprises 65 actors each ranging in age from 6 to 20. The musical runs through Nov. 13 at Three Stages in Folsom. El Dorado Musical Theatre (EDMT) took home eight Elly awards on Sept. 25. The awards recognize excellence in theater, according to contest organizers. Director and choreographer Debbie Wilson, who also took home an Elly, said they rehearsed for eight weeks before the show’s opening on Oct. 28. “We have 14 kids in this show who were in the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ 2005 show,” she said. “It’s fun to see what they were (then) and what they are now.” She said they put a lot of sweat and tears into rehearsals because they are important. “We’ve got to work hard,” Wilson said. “It’s not worth their time if they don’t work hard. I want them to feel happy about what they’ve done.” Wilson said many will be familiar with the story, but the show will have its trademark EDMT stamp on it. “It is Disney’s story with a lot more songs (than in the movie) that the same team wrote,” she said. “It was beautifully adapted to the stage. We get to know the characters even more on stage than in the movie.” She said it’s a tale that’s perfect for the entire family. “The Beast is such a tortured soul,” Wilson said. “It’s all about redemption. The music is bright and beautiful. … The Beast might seem scary to some of the kids, but it is family friendly.” Braiden Wells, an 18-year-old Folsom Lake College student, took home a win for his role as Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray.” In the latest show, he’s also donning heavy makeup as The Beast in the mirror cast. “The Beast is a really tough role because you play the angry side,” Wells said. “He’s so angry he’s been placed in this (position). But there is also a man underneath and a sensitive side.” He said he looks forward to seeing how children in the audience will react. “I’m hoping kids won’t be scared of me after the show,” he said. “They shouldn’t be because by the end, I’m human. The kids are so much fun.” Zack Collins, a 15-year-old Smith Flat Charter School student, said he enjoys taking on the role of Cogsworth in the rose cast. “The most challenging thing is keeping character when you’re in the company of such amazing people,” he said. “This is the best part of my week. School is school.” Andrew Wilson, 15, is home schooled and said he’s looking forward to playing Gaston in the rose cast. “I play the arrogant, handsome but evil character,” Andrew said. “I’ve been doing (theater) for a long time. It’s really a passion for me. It’s also the best part of my week.” He said since many of the cast members have grown up together, it’s really like a big family. “Some people literally are family,” he said, referring to his aunt Debbie Wilson and cousin Zach Wilson. “It is just like a huge happy family. It’s a great network of friends. Debbie likes to say theater is the best team sport because there is no winning or losing.” Zach Wilson, 11, is home schooled and plays La Fou, the bumbling sidekick for Gaston in the rose cast. “I don’t want to be a replica of the movie,” Zach said. “But I will take elements from the movie, because I don’t want to make it too different. I’m making (the role) my own.” Zach said he enjoys performing with his cousin. “It’s really fun,” he said. “It’s somebody I really like and trust. He gives me a lot to play off.” Katherine Sorgea, a 20-year-old Folsom Lake College student, is taking on the role of Belle in the mirror cast. “This was one of the first Disney movies I saw in the movie theater,” Sorgea said. “The character is so well known. This is like a dream come true for me. Every girl wants to be a Disney princess.” She said kids watching the show help make the experience that much better. “Kids in the audience are so cute because they are dressed like you,” she said. Carly Speno, a 16-year-old Oak Ridge High School student, is Belle in the rose cast. “It’s magical playing a Disney princess,” Speno said. “It’s really different because everyone knows who the princesses are and when you go see them, everyone is looking for a certain personality.” She said playing a role such as Belle carries some responsibility. “I always try to be a model for the younger kids,” Speno said. “All the little kids (in the cast) definitely look up to you.” Jonathan Cramner, a 16-year-old Folsom High School student, said he’s trying to draw from the well-known Gaston as seen in the Disney movie. He’s a part of the mirror cast. “It’s hard to draw from a character with such a deep voice who is big and domineering,” Cramner said. “It’s a lot of fun. The kids really like the show and a lot of times they get us to sign their playbills.” For costume designer Christine Martorana, it’s a daunting task to create looks for 130 cast members. “It’s crazy,” she said. “It’s done fast. We try to have everyone use them twice. Everyone is a villager (as well as a) character in the cast.” There are a lot of costumes to craft. “There are probably 60 to 70 enchanted objects (costumes) and there are basic pieces worn underneath all of those,” Martorana said. “There are probably 200 additional pieces for villagers and miscellaneous characters like wolves and specialty characters. We also do hair pieces and wigs for everyone.” * * * “Disney’s Beauty & the Beast” Who: Presented by El Dorado Musical Theatre When: 7 p.m., Oct. 28-29, Nov. 3-5, 10-12; 2 p.m. Oct. 29-30, Nov. 5-6, 12-13 Where: Three Stages, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Tickets: $15-$29 Bargain nights: $14.50 all seats for Nov. 3, 10 Information: edmt.info, threestages.net