NEPA Scene Staff

Be a guest of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at Act Out Theatre in Taylor Feb. 23-March 4

Be a guest of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at Act Out Theatre in Taylor Feb. 23-March 4
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From a press release:

Local audiences will be able to rediscover a “tale as old as time” when Act Out Theatre Group presents Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” in Taylor on weekends starting this Friday, Feb. 23 through Sunday, March 4.

Director Dan Pittman, who became the artistic director of Act Out in August, is excited to lead this cast of 50 young performers.

“Our cast consists of 50 young performers ranging in age from 4-18,” Pittman said. “Some share roles so they appear as principal characters and members of the ensemble.”

“Beauty and the Beast” is a tale of a young prince, portrayed by Shea Quinn of Clarks Summit and John Toussaint of Dallas, who is cursed by an enchantress to become a beast until a girl named Belle, played by Riley Calpin of Scranton and Sarah McGowan of Exeter, opens his heart to love and compassion.

“We stay very true to the traditional style of the show,” Pittman said. “We added our own flair and uniqueness through imaginative costumes and the largest set I have seen in this space. The production team went above and beyond to ensure these students have the best experience possible.”

Brennen Johnson of Hanover Township takes on the role of Lumiere for the entire production.

“Playing Lumiere is invigorating,” Johnson said. “I am able to use bottled up energy and release it into the character on the stage.”

Alana Simrell of Scranton was challenged by alternating two different roles, Lefou and D’Arque.

“Learning the roles of Lefou and D’Arque simultaneously presented me with a challenge initially due to the fact that I am a girl playing two different male roles,” Simrell said. “It has been an interesting and thought-provoking experience developing the mindsets of two different characters and learning how they each contribute to the overall theme of one of the most iconic stories of all time.”

This is a family show in more ways than one. There are six sets of siblings in the cast: Rocco (Cogsworth) and Sarah Pugliese (Chip) of Wilkes-Barre Township; Alana (Lefou/D’Arque), Jenny (Silly Girl), Nora (Silly Girl), and Clara Simrell (children’s ensemble) of Scranton; Max (Lefou) and Milana Snyder (Silly Girl) of Scranton; Caelan (ensemble) and Lorcan Baden (D’Arque) of Taylor; Mia and Aubrey Sperazza (both children’s ensemble) of Wilkes-Barre; and Mark and Isabella Naescu (both children’s ensemble) of Dallas.

“This production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is something people are not going to want to miss,” Simrell continued. “Everyone knows and loves the story, and our own unique spin on this ‘tale as old as time’ is something that will resonate with people of all ages.”

Act Out Theatre Group is primarily a workshop-based theatre company where young performers ages 4-18 can learn and grow, not only as performers, but in all aspects of theatre.

“Act Out is a great place for kids of all ages to learn about the theatrical world through workshops,” Johnson said. “It definitely gives us kids more opportunities.”

“Beauty and the Beast” runs on the Act Out stage (408 N. Main St., Taylor) from Feb. 23 until March 4, with shows on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m., along with a special educational performance on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at noon.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students/seniors, and group rates are available. Ticket reservations can be made by calling 717-504-0829 or by e-mailing Tickets can also be purchased at the door. Prepayment is not required; all payments can be made at the door.

This may be one of the last shows held in the Act Out Theatre Group’s building, as it is currently being sold. Pittman is weighing options for the future.

Production staff members for “Beauty and the Beast” include: Dan Pittman of Plymouth, director and fight choreographer; Jackie Nat of Plains Township, choreographer; Jennifer Hunter of Dallas, music director; Kalen Churcher of Plymouth, children’s ensemble director and costume designer; Jonathan Vojtko of Wilkes-Barre, technical director; Lily Smith of Scranton, stage manager; and Jenny Simrell of Scranton, dance and fight captain.