By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Cherokee Musical Theater Department at Cherokee Central Schools is inviting everyone to be their guest as they present “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”. The show will open at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center on Thursday, April 27 at 7pm. Other shows will be held Friday, April 28 at 7pm; Saturday, April 29 at 2pm and 7pm; and Sunday, April 30 at 2pm.
Last year, the Musical Theater Department made history with the first musical in the school’s history with a production of “The Lion King Jr.”
“In all of the plays we were looking at for this year, we choose this one for several reasons,” said Michael Yannette, Cherokee High School and Middle School director of choir and musical theater. “One being that it fit us well, but also, it’s such an emotional show…and, with ‘The Lion King’ which is also an emotional show, we kind of needed a follow-up that was similar and something that people really knew because we’re really trying to build an audience. We’re trying to get people to come and see everything that we do.”
The play comes at a time when the story itself is quite well-known and in the public eye with the recent release of the live-action movie. The young actors related they have drawn from both the original cartoon version and the movie version, as well as the world around them, when developing their particular characters for the show.
Jake Sneed played a young Simba in last year’s production of “The Lion King Jr.” and is slated to play Cogsworth in “Beauty and the Beast” – a character he says is much more challenging. “There’s a lot more depth to the character and to the entire production. It’s really been challenging as an actor trying to explore the different emotions and connections you have with your character.”
Eason Esquivel, who is playing the part of Lumiere, commented, “I’ve drawn a little more from the live-action movie because I like the style in which it was done, but at the same time, I like adding my own style of being a ham. I’m not just trying to portray a ladies man and a romance fan. I’m also trying to portray him.”
The lead part of Belle will be played by Cece Lambert who portrayed Nala in last year’s production. “With this overall experience, you really have to sit back and really think of who your character is, what they’ve went through, where they’ve been, where they are now, and what led them up to that point. I try to put more of myself into Belle rather than me trying to portray other Belles.”
In relation to watching the live-action movie, she noted, “I saw the different styles…I saw her style of trying to be this person, and my style is just a bit different but similar.”
Lambert will be looking for “Something There” with her counterpart the Beast who is being portrayed by Jullian Rubio. “It quite similar to my last year’s part because they’re both very bold,” said Rubio who played Mufasa in “The Lion King Jr.”
Kyra Sneed will be holding the show together as the stage manager. “I work closely with the actors and make sure they’re doing what they need to be doing, make sure they know their lines, etc. I have past film directing experience, and you have to be very organized with your work to make sure that you’re keeping up with everything.”
She added, “I really enjoy it. You get to see how things are being done backstage.”
Safiya Daggs, who is portraying the Wardrobe, noted that developing her character has been a challenge due to the fact that the cartoon version and movie version of that character are so different. “Their story lines are also different because one’s married to the piano, and the other one has a thing with Cogsworth, so it’ll be different.”
Gaston, the burly hunter, will be played by Logan Lequire. “It’s been really fun, and most of my inspiration is me, just being me…the best part has been the acting and getting to goof off and have fun with these guys while still getting work done.”
Tickets for the production are $7 pre-sale and $8 at the door. For the evening performance, the Braves Café’ is offering a pre-show dinner combo for $15 for those interested in the dinner and a show combination. To purchase tickets, call 554-5124 or 554-5032 or visit the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center Monday through Friday from 7:30-8:30am or 2:30-3:30pm.