‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’ features local, young talent

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(Photo courtesy Greenbrier Valley Theatre)
Sophie Bowes, Lillie King, Jordan Reed, Kylea Phillips and Lauren Rodgers rehearsing Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”
(Photo courtesy Greenbrier Valley Theatre)
Sydnee Miller and Ryan Vaughan rehearsing Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”

Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT) is set to present the Youth Education Program’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.,” with music by Alan Menkin, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book by Linda Woolverton, originally directed by Jess Roth, originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

This classic musical runs Mar. 16-25 at 7 p.m. with a pay-what-you-can preview performance on Wednesday, Mar. 15, at 7 p.m. and a matinee performance on Sunday, Mar. 26 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $13 for seniors and $11 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit www.gvtheatre.org.

In this classic Disney tale, a cruel young prince is cursed to live as a beast until he can learn to love and be loved in return. With the help of Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Chip and Cogsworth, he might find redemption in the lovely Belle. This family-friendly favorite features the popular songs “Be Our Guest,” “Something There” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and over 40 students.

Many of the students in this production have been learning and performing in the GVT Education Program since they were children. Seniors Jordan Reed and Sydnee Miller are veterans of the program and are preparing for their final youth musical on GVT’s stage.

“To see them perform in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’ as seniors is remarkable. They’ve turned into talented actors and thoughtful young adults,” Education Director Courtney Susman said about working with Reed and Miller. “To be a part of that growing up process here at GVT is something I cherish daily.”

Reed’s eight years, with roles in “Les Misérables: School Edition” and Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” have improved his vocabulary and taught him many skills, such as adaptability. A “Beauty and the Beast” fan since childhood, his role gives him the chance to put those skills to work on a story that he grew up appreciating. He’s having a great time portraying one of the most fun and upbeat characters in this production.

“I enjoyed ‘Beauty and the Beast’ because of the story as a whole and the amazing musical numbers! What I enjoy most about Lumiere is how warm, bubbly and full of ‘light’ he is,” the young actor said.

While Reed plans on using what he has learned at GVT on new adventures in his future, Miller intends to continue with theater. Miller began in GVTots, and “Beauty and the Beast” will be her fourth spring musical. She admits that it will be strange to move her studies to West Virginia University.

“When my last show is over, it will feel like a big chunk of my life is missing. I’ve been here longer than I haven’t. I’m so happy to have such amazing people in my life,” Miller said.

Veteran students with so many years of experience can be intimidating to newcomers, but GVT’s welcoming environment made new arrival Kaley Vestal feel right at home. Vestal is from Greenbrier West High School (GWHS) and has been in GVT’s satellite after-school program for four years at GWHS. This will be her first musical at GVT.

Working alongside her peers, in both the after-school program and rehearsing for this musical, Vestal has found her time in theater to be the best of her high school career. She has learned that almost any obstacle can be overcome if you’re willing to take a chance.

“My advice to anyone interested is to always say ‘yes’. Saying no will only close doors and stop you from growing and blossoming as an actor/actress, stage manager, tech crew or costumer,” Vestal said.

These students may be taking their experiences with GVT in different directions, but their study and dedication have given them skills and talents that can help them accomplish their future goals no matter where they go.

GVT’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” also includes Stella Baldwin, Sophie Bowes, Addy Carr, Ella Carr, Charleigh Carter, Thomas Cornett, Christina Cullen, Sophia Gum, Maggie Hunter, Grace Johnson, Sarah Jones, Lillie King, Shaylen Lafferty, Kaelin Maro, Jacob Masters, Sarah Miller, Emarya Montgomery, Kymberlyn Morgan, Stella Neeley, Kylea Phillips, Lauren Rodgers, Khalil Samuels, Will Sarver, Sam Snyder, Sarah Stacy, Cora Taylor, Jameson Vance, Emma Vass, Ryan Vaughan, Olivia Voltaggio, Zenya Walters, B’Launa Westmoreland, Jed White, Isaiah Workman and Blaine Yates.