‘Beauty and the Beast’ delivers big message
Nalyn Tindall plays Belle and Nicole Poepping plays the Beast in Ecole Charlie Killam School’s production of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’ Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
The drive for acceptance for who they really are is an experience every student goes through.
It is also a strong theme in Ecole Charlie Killam drama group’s latest effort as they tackle Beauty and the Beast Jr.
The Disney classic, adapted for the stage, tells the story of a prince who is cursed after having a poor woman thrown out of his palace. He is transformed into the Beast and all of his servants are transformed into furniture and will remain that way forever unless he can convince a woman to fall in love with him before the final petal of a rose falls away.
As his time is ticking away, Belle comes across his palace and he is forced to discover who he really is and to get Belle to ssee him for something other than a monster who imprisoned her father.
“I like the moral (of the play),” said Rylee Daniels, who plays the role of bombastic antagonist Gaston. “It’s don’t judge somebody by their looks, it matters what is in the inside.”
The story has been brought back into the spotlight this year by being made into a live action film starring Emma Watson as Belle. It’s the role that Nalyn Tindall was selected to take on. Not everyone gets the chance to play an iconic Disney princess, but Tindall says she feels a kinship with the character.
“I’ve always identified with Belle because she is a smart, studious girl and I’ve always looked up to people like that,” said Tindall.
It is a role she has blossomed into, but key to the success of the character is it’s chemistry with the two other leads: the Beast, played by Nicole Poepping, and Daniels.
The challenge is made a little more difficult by the mostly female cast, but it is one they have overcome as all three are friends off stage as well.
For Poepping playing the Beast was right up her ally. Last year in the school’s production of The Lion King, she mastered the role of the villainous Scar. The Beast, however, has stretched her horizons as she now gets to play both sides of the spectrum.
“I like that I get to be the villain and the nice person at the same time,” said Poepping. “I think the part of the villain is more fun to play because you get to have more emotion into it.”
The opportunity to play Gaston gave Daniels the chance to have a lot of fun with her character, but at the same time she has some obstacles to overcome in playing the muscle-bound antagonist.
“He’s one of the most overexaggerated characters, he has overexaggerated muscles and overexaggerated personality, so I thought it would be fun to play,” she said. “I just act real egotistical.”
Co-director and teacher Sabrina Heydorn says all three young actresses have come a long way since they first cracked open the script in the fall.
“They have much more confidence even just in receiving the notes that we give them … they just pick it up, they just get it,” said Heydorn.
“Now they can embody the character and understand it and take their own ways with it.”
The troupe is made up of 30 actors from Grades 6 to 8 and they have met three times a week since the October to get the play right. Though the play is condensed to an hour — hence the “Junior” annotation in the name — they have stayed true to the script, including most of the big songs and dances.
“They have beautiful voices, it was part of the audition, a singing portion and an acting portion and a monologue portion as well,” said Heydorn.
They will get the opportunity to really stretch their acting muscles at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre when they perform the play on May 29 and 30 at 7 p.m. They will also be doing two shows for the school. Tickets are available through the Lougheed Centre box office and online at camroselive.ca.