By MARGIE DOYLE
Orcas Islanders have been requesting another big musical and here it is! This magical, magnificent event has attracted many an islander as cast, musician, technician, set builder, lighting expert, costumer and hairdresser, all to create a musical extravaganza of the beloved Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast.” Now all that’s needed is an audience, and from opening night on, there will be a stampede to the Box Office as no one will want to miss this production.
Included in the cast of “Beauty and the Beast” are 42 combined chorus members and dancers of all ages. Sisters, married couples, and parents and children all fill up the stage with singing and dancing as the humans – and the familiar castle objects – in the play.
Walter O’Toole plays the Beast who is tamed by the Beauty – Belle – played by Grace McCune, of the band Twirl.
Gaston, the full-of-himself libertine is played by Stephen Oles, a Lopez resident. Oles said, “It’s fun to be the bad guy – more fun than to play the good guy; finding endless ways to make him a total jerk.” Oles says the littlest girl in the chorus came up to him and said, “There’s nothing nice about you, is there?”
Gaston’s comedic counterpart, Lefou, is played by Sean Vincent, who wowed us as Picasso in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” last season. Sean Vincent described his character as Gaston’s “Much abused, syncophantic sidekick, who enjoys making Gaston look good by making me look bad.”
Vincent says that his hair and makeup were designed to create “a greasy, slimy look. I think it’s going to work.”
John Baker, known to Orcas audiences from his performance in “Little Shop of Horrors” and other plays, is Cogsworth.
Baker said, “Of the 42 community theater productions I’ve been in, “Beauty and the Beast” is my favorite musical – the best, largest, explosively wonderful musical. Sparks asked me to try out and I said, ‘Give me a role,’ because I wanted to be in on it.”
Freddy Hinkle, last seen at the Orcas Center in “Sweet Thursday,” is the very French candleabra, Lumiere.
Beth Baker, singer-seamstress-actress who played Mary Magdalene in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” plays the teapot, Mrs. Potts, who rolls in the tea caddy with her little cracked teacup son, Chip, played by Aidan McCormick.
Becki Klauss, a classically trained soprano, plays Wardrobe. Lesley Liddle plays Babette, the sassy French feather duster.
Paul Carrick plays D’Arque, the proprietor of the local lunatic asylum where Belle’s father, Maurice, has been committed.
Maurice is played by Ed Sutton, who says, “It is a challenge to get back on the stage after a hiatus of some seven years. (My last performance was in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’) The most exciting thing for me in a large cast production is to see the youngsters begin an experience that they will treasure for many, many years. I look forward some day to being in a play with my own granddaughter.”
Unutterably giggly are the three Silly Girls – Iris Parker Pavitt, Halley McCormick, and Sabina Smith-Moreland. Claire Orser plays a little fairy.
Adia Dolan, Ester Myers, Audrey Moreland and Katie Wilkins play a band of marauding wolves.
A cameo role of the Prince is played by Greg Ripley, and the performance is narrated by Lyndy Tuson-Turner.
Other townspeople are played by Paul and Virgina Carrick, Susan Stoltz, Wilie Kau, Jim Walsh, Mimi Anderson, Bill Buchan, Pam Loew, Audrey Moreland, Bruce and Victoria Parker, Aliza Diepenbrock, Rose Strasen and Alicia Susol.
Virginia Carrick, one of the townspeople said. “It’s really exciting – it’s really fun to see things come together, especially as the costumes are revealed. I think the island’s really going to be surprised.”
Bruce Parker, playing another townperson, said, “You establish friendships with other actors; all the pieces in the puzzle have to work together. You have to listen and pay attention to the others for it to work. I commend it to everyone as a great way to get to know your neighbor.”
The musical extravaganza is directed by Deborah Sparks, with musical direction by Martin Lund and scenic design by Shaun Albrechtson. “Beauty and the Beast” will play Thursdays through Saturdays for three weekends, from April 10 to 26 at 7:30 p.m. But don’t wait till the last weekend to get your tickets, as you’re sure to want to see it more than once.
Tickets are $15, $12 for Orcas Center members and $8 for students at www.orcascenter.org or at 376-2281 ext. 1.
Next week: Susan Babcock’s dance classes, musicians and crew add to ‘Beauty’s’ spectacle.