‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’ at the Harquail

Lauren Cumber is one of two actors sharing the part of Belle, and that is Shrinjan Datta under the mask of the Beast.

It’s a ‘Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme’, and it’s coming to the Harquail Theatre this weekend, courtesy of the Cayman Music School.

The story of Belle, the Beast and all the enchanted creatures inhabiting a castle was a huge hit for Disney when the animated feature film premiered in 1991. Since then, it has become a Broadway hit and, subsequently, a live-action adaptation, which hit theatres in 2017.

The junior version, which clocks in at a brisk 1 hour 15 minutes, follows the same storyline, but keeps it shorter for younger audiences and parents. It also sets an age limit on performers, with no one over 18 on stage.

Kristen Aguero is the crusty, yet lovable, Cogsworth.

Director of the show, Sarah Williams, and musical director Inna Kazakova, had to deal with numerous challenges before the production could premiere, all related to COVID-19. From significant delays to cast changes, there have been many hurdles, so it is gratifying to finally see everyone’s hard work come to fruition.

“We started rehearsals in September 2019,” Williams said, “so it feels like we’ve been working on this show forever [laughs].

“The island went into lockdown two weeks before the original opening date in early April.”
With the young cast members being granted an unexpected five-month break, Williams was wondering how many would remember their lines and choreography when they finally came back together. Turns out, she had nothing to worry about.

Cast members rehearse a scene with vigour.

“The kids have been amazing,” she said. “I was nervous about going back into rehearsals, but they had absorbed and retained everything.”

Williams said it was also wonderful to see them back and socially interacting again after being separated for so long, noting that the lockdown was particularly difficult for children.

The part of Belle is being shared by Lauren Cumber and Charli Foster, and the Beast is played by Shrinjan Datta, who jumped into the role about a month ago after the original cast member had to leave the island.

Charli Foster (pictured in the character’s signature dress) shares the part of Belle with Lauren Cumber.

“Nicholas Isabel was the Beast before COVID regulations hit,” Williams said, “but then he had to leave the island. Shrinjan only had about three weeks to get into the role, and he has been brilliant.

“Lucy Beck, who played Babette, also left the island, and the part has been taken over by Jardae Barnes. The kids who stepped in at the last minute are absolute heroes.”

The stage at the Harquail will be brought to life with projections authorised by Disney, allowing for minimal sets. However, the costumes are very real, including the Beast’s mask, which only arrived on the island last week.

Kato McKiernan is the main rascal, Gaston, and Chantal Kerr is LeFou.

Williams is anticipating a great audience turnout, which will be wonderful for the children who have worked so hard on the show while dealing with unique circumstances.

Once the curtain comes down for the final time on this show, auditions begin the week after for ‘Matilda’, which will be an open call for any aspiring under-18 thespians.
Until then, the cast of ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’ invites you to ‘be our guest’.

| Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at www.eventpro.ky. There are two showings on Saturday at 2pm and 5pm and one on Sunday at 2pm. For more info on the show and auditions, email [email protected].

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