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DL puts on 'Beauty & the Beast' : Tickets now on sale for DL high school musical fantasy

"Tale as old as time, true as it can be..."

When the Walt Disney Company released its timeless animated classic, "Beauty & the Beast," in 1991, it instantly became one of the most beloved movies of all time. It also became the first full-length animated feature to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture.

So popular was the fairytale romance of Belle and her less-than-charming prince that it spawned a Broadway play of the same name -- a play that enjoyed an extremely successful run on the Great White Way.

And it was when Kathy Larson and Mark Everson saw that very Broadway production in New York City that they first hatched the idea of staging it here in Detroit Lakes one day.

"Ever since we saw it we've wanted to do it (in Detroit Lakes)," Larson said during a break in rehearsals Thursday. "The music is so great, and it's just such a wonderful story," adds Everson, who serves as assistant director for the production. "We like this kind of fantasy show.

"It's also a scary show to do," he adds, "because there are so many characters that have to be good."

With the public being so familiar with the characters and music, Everson explains, it just puts added pressure on the cast and crew to deliver a show that is as good as they remember, if not better.

But after nearly three months of rehearsals, he adds, he believes the actors are up to the challenge.

"They've done a great job with it -- they really stepped up," Everson says of the cast, which includes 61 Detroit Lakes middle and high school students.

Though the characters are familiar, Everson says, the actors and actresses who were chosen to bring them to life have also used their own skills and talents to do "some really innovative things" with the way those characters are portrayed.

One of the most difficult aspects of the staging, Everson adds, is that so many of the characters are larger than life -- in the literal sense.

The play centers on an enchanted castle, where the inhabitants are home accessories come to life, such as Mrs. Potts (a teapot), Lumiere (a candlestick), Cogsworth (a grandfather clock) and Madame Bouche (a wardrobe).

Because of this, their costumes are quite large and take up much more room on stage than a normal actor would, Everson explains.

"We had to plot our spaces carefully... so they can interact correctly without bumping each other off stage," he says. "The actors also had to start rehearsing in costume a lot sooner than normal (to get used to how they worked)."

On the other hand, many of the costumes had fragile elements, so they had to balance the need to rehearse with the need to keep the costumes in good shape, Everson says, adding, "It's a fine line."

And then there are the special effects, music (the play includes a pit orchestra), lighting and sound elements.

"There are a lot of fog and smoke effects in this show too," Everson says. "It's almost its own show-behind-the-show."

In order to keep the play's action flowing smoothly, he adds, they have staged it so the actors themselves are moving many of the sets and props around on stage as they move between scenes.

"We wanted to make it look like the set is changing itself," he says, adding that it was a "huge challenge" to make it work.

Larson says the challenges was made slightly easier by the fact that they were able to purchase the professional set that had been built by the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre when they staged the same production a few years ago.

"It can fit on any size stage," Everson adds. "It's so versatile."

"There are a lot of levels to it, and it's all on wheels, so it can serve multiple purposes," Larson explains. "It's extremely well-designed and constructed."

Though the main portion of the set was purchased, however, the set design crew of Mike Williams, Paul Renner and Greg Mueller -- who went all the way to Wisconsin to bring the set back from the last school that had used it -- also added some elements that are unique to this production, Larson adds.

"And we painted our own backdrop," she says, noting that artist Linda Sheryak deserves a special thanks for creating the design.

In fact, Larson says, there are many volunteers, student and adult, who worked behind the scenes of this production to make it special.

They include choreographers Ronita Hackel, Chelsea Lessin and Ashley Berg; costumers Kari Williams, Michelle Norby, Madalyn Sukke and Lavonne Kostrzewski; makeup artist Julie Morben; hair designer Shawna Wilson; accompanists Paul Heisler and Karen Bimberg; pit orchestra director Heather Trowbridge; and publicity organizers Beth Renner and Kelly Remmen.

"One of the really great things about this show is its message, that beauty really is more than skin deep," Larson adds.

The classic fairytale will come to life on the stage of George Simson Auditorium, inside DL Middle School, on Thursday, Nov. 1, when the curtain rises on the first of five performances, at 7:30 p.m.

Additional shows, also at 7:30 p.m., will take place on Nov. 2, 9 and 10 -- the original date of Nov. 8 that was listed in the school calendar has been changed to Nov. 9 due to the fact that the Minnesota State High School League changed the Laker football game scheduled for that week from Friday to Thursday night. There will also be a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 4.

Tickets, now on sale at Central Market in Detroit Lakes, are $8 for adults and $6 for students.

Cast List:

Belle... Paige Johnson

Beast... Alex Renner

Gaston... Bryce Dutton

Lefou... Steve Labine

Cogsworth... Jake Larson

Lumiere... Grant Remmen

Mrs. Potts... Kelsey Dutton

Chip... Cole Remmen

Babette... Kaitlin Lange

Maurice... Jake Ginnaty

Madame Bouche...

Andrea Williams

Monsieur D'Arque...

Peter Johnson

Silly Girls...

Cassandra Foltz, Syd Henderson, Thressa Johnson, Ashley Morben, Kelsey Wenner


Katie Anderson, Ashley Baer, Matt Beilke, Courtney Berg, Cara Berger, Laura Berger, Jack Bergeron, Kayla Brenden, Kaitlyn Caulfield, Beth Champa, Luke Champa, Chris Damlo, Dana Dugger, Cecelia Erholtz, Emma Erholtz, Cassandra Erholtz, Veronica Foltz, Andy Fondrick, Eric Hanson, Katie Harper, Shea Henderson, Heather Hewchuk, Kassi Inderrieden, Brandon Johnson, Jessica Kempenich, Liz Klyve, Mike Kohler, Noora Kouhia, Abby Krause, Bryan Lee, Katherine Lembke, Carolyn McCormack, Kathryn McCormack, Jon Melgaard, Hannah Mickelson, Karensa Olson, Danelle Olson, Logan Peterick, Emma Robbins, Megan Sauvageau, Rachel Skaaland, Tamsin Spenser, Ally Spurlin, Jon Tolbert and Katy Wilson.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454