Eann Kelsey isn’t really a Beast, but he’s going to pretend to be one in Conway High School’s three performances of the musical Beauty and the Beast.
“I love Disney,” Kelsey said. “I’ve been in band…but I’ve always enjoyed acting.”
Based on the 1991 movie, and the first Disney movie to be turned into a musical, Beauty and the Beast follows the story of Belle, an intelligent young lady who feels out of place in her provincial French town.
When her father is imprisoned in a mysterious castle, her attempt to rescue her father introduces her to the Beast. Beast was transformed long ago from his human form by an enchantress, and the only way to return to that human form is if he learns how to love and be loved in return.
The Beast’s entire enchanted household, including well-known characters Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth and Chip, watches their relationship unfold and hopes the Beast falls in love before time runs out.
Kelsey, a CHS junior, portrays the Beast, and said he originally tried out for a different part. When the original Beast actor bowed out of the performance, he was able to get the part.
Junior Kristan Carpenter, who plays the lead character Belle, said this is her favorite musical and story “of all time”.
“I wasn’t expecting to get the lead. It was scary at first, but I’m so glad I get to be part of this amazing experience,” Carpenter said.
She said it really has helped boost her confidence in her abilities.
Kelsey said his favorite songs are Human Again and the famous Be Our Guest, while Carpenter said she likes best when Belle sings with her father, Maurice, and the smaller parts of the story that tie it all together, she said.
Show Director Katie Smith said she and fine arts teacher Jacelyn Spearman tried to decide on a musical that would best showcase the talents of their current group of students, and one that was challenging.
“This one was definitely challenging – turning animation into real life,” Smith said.
Smith said the 36-student cast and crew has been excited to perform for the community, and putting on the play has been a great chance for different departments to work together.
“The arts department collaborated with us, and painted some of the sets,” Smith said.
The cast also got lots of practice before several community shows, performing for five local schools.
Beauty and the Beast will hit the stage this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7 p.m. in Conway High School’s auditorium, and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the same location. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door, or by calling the school at (843) 488-0662.
Other cast members include William Craft as Gaston; London Strickland as Lefou; Letavious Bildon as Maurice; Samantha DeLuca as Lumiere; Hannah Rackley as Mrs. Potts; Evan Richardson as Cogsworth; Alejandra Juanes as Babette; Brazyn Geidel as Madame De La Grande Bouche; Toby Daugherty as Chip; Antoine Parker as Monsieur D’Arque; Shyla Gural, Teagan Legg and Kymesha Vereen as the Silly Girls; and Nayeli Menjivar as the Enchantress.