Stages Presents “Beauty and the Beast JR” for 40th Anniversary Production
Stages Theatre Co. in Hopkins is returning to its roots for its 40th anniversary show as it presents Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast JR.”
Stages’ first production, back when organizers say it was called Child’s Play Theatre, was “Beauty and the Beast.” For the cast and crew, it’s a full-circle moment.
“They specifically chose to honor the first show that we’ve done,” said Aniya Hollie, who plays Belle. “I am super excited. It is such an honor to play such a role, such a classic role that a lot of people have heard of.”
Forty years of progress
Hollie is a senior at Maple Grove High School. She’s been in a number of Stages productions before.
“I wanted to make sure when I play Belle that she is relatable, and has these arcs that people can relate to,” Hollie said.
Forty years is huge for her and the cast. Hollie’s character is also symbolic for her– representation is what inspired her to grace the stage years ago.
“The reason for me starting was because I saw a princess of color. I remember, I was seeing Cinderella at a school theater. It sparked my interest for theater, because I felt seen, and I felt like I had a place,” Hollie said. “My goal was to somehow embody that princess I saw on stage, and be that representation for youth growing up.”
Attention to detail
Across the stage, it’s Hill-Murray freshman George Wellens’ second show with Stages. It’s his first classic though, as he plays Lumiere.
“I think that there is some pressure that it holds, especially with such a classic character,” Wellens said.
He hopes audiences are entranced by what the show has to offer. The set has a number of moving pieces and detailed costuming. One detail in his own costume, one that won’t be seen by the audience, stands out to him.
“The coat is probably my favorite part of everything,” Wellens said. “If you come back here , and you open up these seams there’s a bunch of candles. And my favorite part is that right there there’s the animated Lumiere from the original movie, which is super, super cool.”
Hollie said she wants the community to take it in– and she hopes they participate as the familiar songs, like “Belle” and “Be Our Guest” are performed on stage.
“I hope that the audience feels the joy to want to sing with us! And possibly, the kids get up and dance with us,” Hollie said. “Super excited to be putting on this classic performance this season.”
Be their guest
Performances begin tonight and run on select days through Dec. 27 at the Mainstage Theatre at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
Stages will offer this show with a number of accessibility modifications throughout its run. Those include sensory-friendly shows, pay-what-you-can productions, ASL-interpreted performances and audio-described productions.
More information about specific dates and prices are available on Stages’ website.