Windsor Light Music Theatre’s 75th anniversary celebration is about to get even more magical with its first production of the season: Beauty and the Beast Jr. taking to the stage this month. And if you’re wondering just how enchanting the show will be, we have the inside scoop.
In an interview, Rod Turton, director of Beauty and the Beast Jr. and Windsor Light’s current Youth Chair, shared some exciting details about what audiences can expect from the production.
Windsor Light’s production of Beauty and the Beast Jr. has been in the works for over a year, and the cast and crew have been eagerly anticipating its opening night. The production, which had been scheduled to open in March 2020, was postponed due to the pandemic. Now, three years later, the young performers are ready to bring the magic of this beloved Disney classic to the stage.
“Windsor Light was just two weeks away from performing Beauty and the Beast Jr. in March 2020 when the world fell under its own mysterious curse,” Turton explains. “Three years later, we are proud to bring this story to the stage with a new group of young performers, with a new appreciation for the magic of youth theatre after it was taken from us so suddenly. In the story, the Beast learns never to give up hope while under his curse, and we hope to illustrate that message to audiences in this new adaptation.”
The story follows Belle, a smart and independent girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in with the rest of her town. When her father gets lost in the forest and is captured by a terrifying Beast, Belle sacrifices her own freedom to take her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner.
As Belle spends more time with the Beast, she starts to see past his fearsome exterior and learns about the curse that has been placed on him and his servants. The Beast is actually a prince who was turned into a monster as punishment for his selfishness, and the only way to break the curse is for someone to fall in love with him.
Once Belle and the Beast grow closer, they begin to develop feelings for each other, but their happiness is threatened by the jealous Gaston, who wants to marry Belle for his own selfish reasons.
In the end, Belle’s love for the Beast breaks the curse, and the prince is restored to his human form. Belle and the prince fall in love and live happily ever after.
Windsor Light’s production is expected to capture everything fans of the Disney classic and Broadway sensation would expect from the timeless story, brought to life by a new generation of talented performers.
“We provide a well-rounded, immersive approach to theatre education,” he explained about Winsor Light Music Theatre’s programs. On top of vocal training and choreography, we spend time during the rehearsal process discussing character development and motivation. The young actors do an exceptional job of portraying a range of complex, silly, and at times, villainous, characters on stage,” Turton said. “In particular, the performer playing the Beast effectively portrays the many emotional experiences of the Beast, from anger to frustration, to sadness, and finally, humanity.”
“The music of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice provides the foundation for some of the most iconic moments in the show,” Turton said. “These moments, under the direction of music director Paige Moore, bring about some of the most upbeat and toe-tapping numbers as well as some of the most heart-wrenching and moving. When Belle, played by Mena Fusaro, delivers her stunning rendition of ‘Home’ as she goes from craving adventure to being held captive, there will not be a dry eye in the house!”
The production also features dazzling choreography by Ruby Romero, stunning set design, and intricate costumes by Nancy Edwards.
“Our set design team has created a magical world beyond our wildest expectations,” Turton said. “And Nancy Edwards has been working for nearly four months to make every stitch and hem performance-ready. This includes the instantly-recognizable costumes from the Disney film, along with some fresh, inventive takes on some of the magical characters.”
But it’s the message of the show that really resonates, even in today’s world. “The message of Beauty and the Beast is as pure in 2023 as it was in 1991, and that is that beauty is found within,” Turton explained. “Belle’s unwavering kindness can see past the unpleasant exterior of the Beast, all while the Beast searches within himself to change. This message still resonates with audiences today because, in a time full of so much turmoil and heartache, it reminds us that change is possible, and no matter who you are, kindness can break any curse.”
The production also showcases the power of community theatre, bringing together a diverse range of performers to create a tight-knit theatre family.
“One of the greatest strengths of community theatre is the ability to bring a diverse range of performers together,” Turton said. “In this production, we welcomed children of all ages, races, and backgrounds. It’s been an incredible experience to watch them grow and learn together.”
“Beauty and the Beast JR” is a condensed version of the classic fairy tale, adapted as a musical for younger performers, and with a diverse range of performers, the show truly captures the true spirit of community theatre. “In this production, we welcomed children ages 9-15 from all corners of Windsor-Essex, and who represent a variety of different backgrounds and experiences. They’re all stars,” Turton shared.
Get ready to be swept away by the magic of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” when it hits the stage in another exciting Windsor Light Music Theatre production. “We could not have asked for a better group of kids to help us kick off our 75th Anniversary season,” Turton said. “As far as the audiences… I hope they enjoy the show, connect to the timeless characters, and maybe, just maybe, walk out of the theatre believing in magic.”
Mark your calendars for April 15th and 16th, 2023 to witness this enchanting performance at École Secondaire L’Essor.
With two showtimes on Saturday, April 15th at 2 pm and 7 pm, and one on Sunday, April 16th at 7 pm, there’s no excuse to miss out on this beloved tale.
Book your tickets today for just $15 per person and witness the magic of “Beauty and the Beast JR” come to life on stage.