Bringing Disney to the stage

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by Greta Yeoman

A flying enchantress, steaming teapot and LED-screen backdrops are just some of the special effects in the upcoming performances of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

The Disney classic is being undertaken by the South Canterbury Drama League.

The Courier was shown around backstage last week, ahead of the show’s opening night tomorrow.

League president Chris Thomas said there was a cast of more than 40 performers, along with more than 80 people on the backstage crew and 14 orchestral performers, taking part.

Set-builders had been busy putting last minute touches to the set on Friday last week, before the actors shifted from rehearsing at The Playhouse to the light-sound-and-set-ready stage of the Theatre Royal.

The Disney classic – which was released as an animated film in 1991 and then as a live-action remake featuring Harry Potter actress Emma Watson last year – tells the story of a young woman, Belle, who is imprisoned in a castle by a beast, in exchange for the release of her father.

She befriends a variety of talking objects – including a clock, a teapot and her teacup son – and eventually falls in love with the beast, who turns out to be a prince placed under a magic spell.

In the South Canterbury Drama League stage performance, the enchantress who puts the prince under the spell would fly away on an acrobatic bar, while the talking teapot Mrs Potts would have actual steam coming out the “spout”, Mr Thomas said.

The set-up also included drop-down giant plates, slide-out trees and a castle, which had been built at the league’s Playhouse Theatre base and transported to the Theatre Royal.

A giant LED screen would provide a modern alternative to the painted backdrops often used in stage shows.

Mr Thomas promised the special effects and stage technology would entertain audiences, alongside the story itself.

The cast will perform nine shows of Beauty and the Beast at Timaru’s Theatre Royal, starting tomorrow night.

All shows will start at 7.30pm, except for Sunday, which is a 2pm matinee show. The series runs until Saturday, September 29. For more information or tickets, visit dramaleague.org.nz/event/disneys-beauty-beast.