See the Magic of a Tale as Old as Time – Beauty and the Beast

In entertainment, Upcoming Events

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland

In the words of Mrs. Potts’s lovely song, Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time.

Cyndi Langford, director of the upcoming Northumberland Players production, agrees – but has also found that its message is as true today as ever.

And it’s all there for you at Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre Feb. 23 through March 3.

The beauty of the title is Belle, a young woman who does not quite blend in among the villagers in her provincial little town. And the Beast is actually a young prince under an evil spell that condemns him to inhabit the body of a beast until he can learn to love and be loved.

Everybody knows that story, so they think that makes it simple. But whenever you bring a Disney movie to the stage, it brings with it a multitude of complexities,” Langford said in an interview last week.
“In this particular case, the set itself has multiple domains – it’s a castle, it’s a dungeon, it’s a tavern, it’s a bedroom, it’s a village. And doing it in the Capitol Theatre, there’s minimal space in the wings, which makes set changes challenging.”

She worked with Jim Finan on designing a suitable set, and they came up with three large pieces that fill the whole space right up to the ceiling.

It’s wonderful and very insightful of Jim to come up with a design that’s going to bring the whole story – not just the castle, but the whole story – to life,” she said.

I feel really comfortable about what we have.”

Langford is also delighted to boast a “very, very strong cast.

I have worked in many, many musicals over the years. This is the strongest I have ever had, so professional, so prepared for every rehearsal. I really feel there is no weakness. They are engaged, they are enthusiastic, they are positive, and the whole cast has meshed together really, really well.”

The cast of 30 is unusually large due to an approach she is taking to this story to expand the number of children. Usually Chip is the only child’s role, but this ensemble has a contingent of what they’re calling Les Filles de la Ville. It’s a natural step, given Langford’s work as a teacher.

We tell fairy tales to children for a purpose. There’s a message in it. So I wanted to portray this story through a child’s perspective the best we could.”

These children are brought in through the role of the narrator, relating the tale with the children at her feet.

Then they run off and do a shadow-puppet show depicting the premise of the plot that’s about to unfold,” she explained, saying this element has brought an extra measure of joy and passion to the story.

I love working with kids, so this has been terrific. They get to dance and sing in an experience they will treasure, hopefully, for the rest of their life.”

The story is probably a thousand years old, Langford said, but the main themes of the show are as pertinent as ever – “not judging a book by its cover, not making fun of other people because they like to read, bullying, male chauvinism,” she listed.

We would like to think some of these topics aren’t relevant any more. We would hope they would not be relevant any more. And yet they still are today, I feel, as much as ever before.

The lead characters are entertaining, but there’s still a message – not just for the children that come to see it but the adults as well: we need to do better at being kinder and gentler to each other. We have to continue discussions about this.”

Langford related a memorable moment during rehearsals, when les filles de la ville were watching Gaston perform his song Me (which is basically a love song to himself).

It’s all about him. I have choreographed that where he’s very dominating physically, as well as the words in his song. In the middle of it, one of the little girls had a look of complete and utter disgust on her face. She was horrified,” she recalled with delight.

I thought that was good. You want that reaction, so they go home and have a dialogue with their parents about why was he treating her that way. That didn’t feel right.”

She was also struck by the the villagers mock Belle because she is unusual and she loves to read. In this production, she has one of the little girls admire Belle, carrying a book and tagging along at her heels.

It’s the kind of show I think the whole community will enjoy,” she declared.

Taking into account the amazing production people and set crew, she estimated there are 100 people working on this show, all of whom deserve congratulations “not just on their hard work, but on the incredible artistic values they are bringing to this production.”

For example, she noted that the costume designers made everything from scratch.

We did look at possible rentals, and they all turned to me and said, ‘No. We can do a better job.’

That’s the Northumberland Players organization. They go to great depths to create a very professional show, and the costumes are just outstanding. They put so much hard work and effort into it.”

Langford is joined in her efforts by musical director Anna Mastin (with conductor David Ioannou) and producer Valerie Russell, with herself and Meaghan Macdonald sharing choreographer’s credit.

The cast includes Robyn Hawthorne as Belle, Craig Martin as the Beast, Evan Soutter as Gaston, Ethan Edwards as Lefou, Grant Coward as Maurice, Kelly-Anne Moss as Mrs. Potts (with Oliver Brans and Myles Larrimore as Chip), Hudson Scott as Lumiere, Marley Budreau as Mme. Bouche, Jeremy Brans as Cogsworth, Holly Laflamme-Warner as Babette, David Bryson as M. D’Arque and narrator Brenda Worsnop.

We hope it will be a special night or afternoon for everyone. We are so looking forward to getting onstage and doing this, giving a great performance with a cast and crew and orchestra that are phenomenal,” Langford said.

For ticket information, visit https://capitoltheatre.com/events/

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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