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ACT Players To Present "Beauty And The Beast"

A family favorite is coming to the stage locally, as ACT Players will present the popular musical "Beauty and the Beast." Performances will take place at the Ware Theater on the Lincoln University campus, 1570 Baltimore Pike, Lincoln University.

Tickets are now on sale for the production, which will run on Thursdays through Saturdays, July 19 to 21 and 26 to 28, at 7 p.m. There will also be two matinee performances at 2 p.m. on Sundays, July 22 and 29.

The presentation follows the full Broadway production, which differs somewhat from the animated movie. The show is appropriate for audience members of all ages and will particularly appeal to young fans.

"Little girls are always going to love princesses. It's a fairy tale, there's no question about it," ACT board president Karen Weaver said. "It's a wonderful evening to enjoy in a safe, fun environment."

Elaborate costuming fits the show, with the purpose of catching the interest of the audience, while the well-known music and timeless story are dear to adults as well as children.

"We have an extraordinary costumer who has costumed for us for years," Weaver said. She noted that some of the outfits for this production are very unusual, such as those of the clock and the teapot.

Weaver is co-directing with Mala Marcano, while Lisa Patrick is music director. The cast includes ACT veterans and newcomers.

"The role of the Beast was double-cast due to the demands of the character," Weaver reported. "Bobby Hamilton is portraying him for four shows, and Joseph Brown for the other four."

Staring in the role of Belle is Erin Murphy. "I love Disney. I love 'Beauty and the Beast,' but also I was looking for theater opportunities in the area," she said. Murphy is a recent college graduate with a degree in musical theater. "Any chance to do musical theater is good by me," she said.

Murphy worked with ACT several years ago when she was a high school student in a production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

"This is the first time I've ever played the lead for them, so it's exciting," she said. "I love the family-oriented vibe of it. I also love that it is loved by so many people. It's really fun to get to play a character that is known by so many people but do it my way and put my spin on it.

"Also, Belle is a super strong female character," she added. "It's nice to have something like that."

Playing Gaston is Ethan Knettler. "I have always loved 'Beauty and the Beast.' It's one of my favorite Disney shows. I have been in it once before, and I really wanted to go for the role of Gaston," he said. "He's the big guy, and I'm 6 foot 9 inches and 240 pounds-plus. He's got a big old deep voice like me. The music fits me very well."

Knettler has a strong performing background, but this is his first time with ACT. "I love doing community theater shows. It's a way to meet new friends, to get involved in the community, and do something fun," he said. "It gives me a break from the day-to-day grind. It's something that's not the same old thing."

The Ware Theater seats 178 people, with a section of seats taken by the live orchestra. "We anticipate these shows selling out," Weaver said.

A new ticketing system offers general admission seating in advance. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.actheater.org. They may also be purchased at the door if available. To check for ticket status, readers may visit the website or http://www.facebook.com/ACTPlayers.

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