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Tune as old as time

Belle must endure the trials presented by Gaston and several wolves. (click for larger version)
January 30, 2013 - Deep down in the Clarkston High School Performing Arts Center a beast is under a curse and an out-of-place bookworm is the only one to look inside and change his life.

All will come alive as the high school's drama club presents "Beauty and the Beast" from Feb. 14-17.

"We wanted to choose a show more focused on children," said Director Jeff Tice. He has only directed two children's shows since he started in 1992, Wizard of Oz and Cinderella.

"We had such a great turnout with Cinderella we thought we would see where we could go with Beauty and the Beast. It's awesome with what they have done. The costumes are amazing. The talent is really wonderful."

Mason Van Gieson is stepping into the role as Belle and has her own spin on her character.

"It's different than the Disney movie," she said. "In Belle's case, she has a little more gusto and more internal strength than Disney's Princess Belle. It's a lot of fun to put a new take on Belle and make her a little more of my own."

Van Gieson is also excited to become a Disney princess, especially to all the kids in the community.

"The little girls are going to look up to me and that's exciting," Van Gieson said.

Charlie Fallis the infamous Beast, and brings out the character's animal nature as well as his human characteristics.

"It is definitely different," he said about his first lead role. "It's cool to get those human aspects of your character in there. It's a challenge but that's what makes it fun."

Guiding and helping Belle through the castle are the memorable characters including Lumiere, a candlestick, played by Sam Cook.

"My character is pretty much similar to the Disney movie version," said Cook.

"I would say Mrs. Potts (played by Spencer McIntyre) and Cogsworth (played by Josh Bittick) are very similar because they are classic characters," he added. "It's hard to make them different for the student show."

All three said bringing the classic characters to life has been fun.

"I have had a really good time because I really enjoy my character," Cook smiled. "He is fun."

"It has been an interesting ride for all of us," said Van Gieson. "The fact, all the characters in the play itself are really iconic. All the little kids coming to see it know exactly what is going to happen. All the audience members know exactly what is supposed to happen. It definitely puts a lot of pressure on you to do it right."

Stepping into the classic means they have their own favorite parts of the story they like to perform.

For Cook, it's performing "Be Our Guest," especially with all the different characters such as the dishware and utensils dancing and singing.

"It's all fun, a huge number and everybody is involved in it," he said. "I know the audience will know it and that makes it more fun."

Fallis' favorite scene is one of his own, when Beast tangles with a bunch of wolves.

"All the wolves are jumping on me and I get to fight them off," he said, adding it is just play fighting.

Van Gieson looks forward to the very end of the play when the big reveal happens.

"They all have a happy ending," she said, adding it is her favorite scene because it is what everyone is waiting to happen

The cast invites the entire community out to watch "Beauty and the Beast."

"It's such a good show," said Cook. "There is something for everyone and it has a good message. There are so many fun characters, fun costumes and talented singers, dancers and actors. The sets are amazing. The lighting is going to be awesome."

A bonus for the audience and the cast is children who attend the performances dressed as their favorite Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" character get a free picture with their favorite character.

"It's going to be special," said Tice. "Cinderella was the first time we did a meet and greet."

"It's real exciting," Van Gieson said. "When I was fairy godmother in Cinderella, for me, it was the best part of the show because you had little kids coming up and talking to you as though you are the character. It was so much fun."

Fallis and Cook are also excited for their first meet and greet with the children.

"Usually you just perform and not see how it affects the kids," Cook added. "It will be fun."

The performances are Feb. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m.; Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now. Prices are $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. They can be reserved by calling the Clarkston High School Box Office at 248-623-4024.

"It will definitely live up to expectations," said Van Gieson.

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is based on the popular Disney movie and is Broadway's eighth longest running production in history.

Video of behind the scenes and interviews with the cast is available on www.ClarkstonTV.com.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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