Capel St Mary’s Orchard Players invite you to be their guest for Beauty and the Beast

The principal cast of Beauty and the Beast, staged by Capel St Mary's Orchard Players January 12-14.

The principal cast of Beauty and the Beast, staged by Capel St Mary's Orchard Players January 12-14. Photos: Contributed - Credit: Archant

It may be a tale as old as time, but it’s the first time The Orchard Players have staged Beauty and the Beast. It’s been a challenge, director and group chairwoman Lynn Perera told entertainment writer Wayne Savage.

The principal cast of Beauty and the Beast, staged by Capel St Mary's Orchard Players January 12-14.

The principal cast of Beauty and the Beast, staged by Capel St Mary's Orchard Players January 12-14. Photos: Contributed - Credit: Archant

The story of Belle, who trades places with her father to become the Beast’s prisoner, unaware he’s an enchanted prince, has always been Lynn’s favourite Disney film.

“The spark of interest has always been there. Looking back over the show history of The Orchard Players, Beauty and the Beast has never been done before so it seemed like an ideal solution.”

This version, written by Stephen Duckham, is told very differently to the Disney version and the traditional French fairytale, while keeping the true essence of the story. There are no enchanted servants but there is a traditional pantomime dame, her silly son and Beauty’s slightly absent-minded father. As with all good pantomimes the Capel St Mary-based group also have a good fairy and an evil sorceress.

“It’s quite a challenging story but the group has an enormously talented bunch of actors who have been able to take on board my vision of the show while also having the opportunity to interpret the characters in their own way.”

The principal cast of Beauty and the Beast, staged by Capel St Mary's Orchard Players January 12-14.

The principal cast of Beauty and the Beast, staged by Capel St Mary's Orchard Players January 12-14. Photos: Contributed - Credit: Archant

Wardrobe mistress Julie Wardley has been joined this year by Cheryll Burton who has taken on board the role of wardrobe mistress for the junior members.

“We’ve cheated and have a different actor playing the roles of the Prince and the Beast. This has made it easier for us to portray the transformation scenes and also created more roles for the cast, although it has meant two costumes have needed to be created instead of one,” adds Lynn.

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“The Beast, played by Bex Nicholls, is researching wigs and prosthetics herself which demonstrates how dedicated and invested our members are. Props are being created by a new addition to our backstage team, Naomi Kilby, who, along with her team, has been very busy creating and sourcing finger lights, roses, cakes and masks.”

Making her directorial debut, she confesses to being nervous; looking forward to watching the show for the first time with the stage built, scenery in place, costumes and make-up on, lighting working and props in use.

The principal cast of Beauty and the Beast, staged by Capel St Mary's Orchard Players January 12-14.

The principal cast of Beauty and the Beast, staged by Capel St Mary's Orchard Players January 12-14. Photos: Contributed - Credit: Archant

“I think there probably is added pressure because there’s also the desire to prove myself and the concern over whether everything goes the way I want it to and works. I’ve never wished I’d chosen an easier show – I love the story and really believe in the cast. As a choreographer in previous shows I have at least had experience of organising cast members.

“I also have a fantastic production team behind me. For example, the experienced Maria King as musical director, Greg Garrad as sound and lighting director and of course Julie and Cheryll on costumes. This year, we’ve also been joined by Naomi Kilby on props and the extremely talented Emma Cranwell as our set designer.” The cast totals 35, including 19 juniors, with more than 20 crew including the live band, stage and lighting crews, props, scenery, chaperones etc. They’ve been rehearsing since last September.

Local groups like The Orchard Players are extremely important in communities, Lynn says.

“We provide youngsters not only with a positive outlet but with the opportunities to develop acting, singing, dancing and performance skills which in turn build their confidence. Over the last year or so several young people with learning difficulties and special needs have joined the group and we have been pleased to be able to provide a safe and secure environment for them to develop.

“As a group we were thrilled to be invited to sing at the Queen’s birthday party in the village and are looking forward to performing at the garden party in June to raise money for the village war memorial.”

Beauty and the Beast audiences can expect a fabulous cast retelling an age-old story, she adds; interspersed with amazing choreography, well-known songs and music composed specifically for the production by Maria.

Beauty and the Beast, by the Orchard Players, runs January 12-14 at Capel St Mary Village Hall, 7.30pm nightly. There’s a 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday. Call the box office on 07754 175399 for more details.

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