“A tale as old as time” will be shared by a young generation of thespians later this month. The Yadkin Cultural Arts Center’s summer drama camp students will present Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” July 27-30 at the Willingham Theater. The shows are already sold out, but tickets are still available for two special fundraising events taking place this Saturday.
Belle, Mrs. Potts and other characters from the production will host a breakfast at 10 a.m. and a tea at 2 p.m. at Allison Oaks on Saturday. Tickets are $10 and benefit future youth summer productions.
Yadkin Arts Council President John Willingham said this is the third year of the youth summer camp and he is thrilled about the growth of the program.
“We are just amazed at the participation and the enthusiasm at what’s going on here at the arts center every day and everybody is waiting anxiously for the production to go on at the end of July,” Willingham said.
More than 80 participants ranging in age from 6 to 29 will bring this classic tale to life. The students meet daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to learn music, choreography and lines for the show. There will be two casts which will take turns performing for the production.
The show’s director Jessie Grant said that though it is a youth production, she expects a high level of performance from each actor.
“My expectation of these guys is professional quality and I have the same expectation of a first-grader as I do of a 29-year old,” Grant said.
There are a number of performers in the play who have done multiple theater productions and are always willing to give a helping hand to the younger cast members and first-time performers.
“They are true collaborators,” Grant said.
Twelve-year-old Bella Clayton already has four or five shows under her belt, but she said she is learning so much through this summer’s production of “Beauty and The Beast.”
“My favorite thing about this show is that I’m being pushed to do things I didn’t think I could do and that, in the end, I could really do them. That’s really life changing for me. Before this I didn’t believe I could do any of this stuff,” Clayton said.
In addition to learning lines and some fancy footwork, the students also have been hard at work learning the music for the play. Music Director Edward Charles Kluttz III said there can be challenges when teaching music that is already so well known, but the children are doing a wonderful job. Kluttz said he likes to focus on much more than just the basics when it comes to the music, but really instill in the participants the importance of the voice in portraying their characters.
“I love to talk about acting through the voice, how to tell a story through the voice,” he explained.
Bringing these beloved characters to life on stage is something about which many of the cast members said they are excited. From the Beast to Gaston and, of course, Belle, the actors said there is something to be learned from each of these characters.
“What I’ve learned from playing the character of Belle is that you really have to humble yourself in everything you do, even performing, and also that you shouldn’t change for anyone,” said Maddie Mckie.
Caleb Gerber and Steele Howell, who will take turns playing the Beast, agreed that he does have his flaws, but his learning to overcome them is a central part of the story. For Gerber, he said he could identify with the Beast’s shyness when it comes to simple things like telling Belle her dress is pretty. Howell said that though there is a brokenness in the human that was turned into the Beast, his transformation tells a story that many can identify with in learning to overcome life’s challenges.
More cast interviews and video clips from a rehearsal can be viewed online at www.yadkinripple.com. For tickets to Saturday’s Breakfast with Belle or Tea with Mrs. Potts events, call the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center at 336-679-2941.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.