Over 300 enchanted with Liberty Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast

Over 300 enchanted with Liberty Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast

Jordan Andrews – remember that name because his will more than likely be one to be spoken about in years to come; not just for his portrayal as the Beast in this production, but as a supreme singer and actor on stages nationwide. He’s currently an Opera Performance major at Oklahoma City University.

Belle was played by Mikaela Sons, who never disappoints with her outstanding acting and singing skills onstage.

Did you know Clint Dougherty is French? Ok, maybe he isn’t in real life, but he nailed a French accent to play Lumiere the candelabra.

It’s worth the ticket price just to see the antics of these two – Andrew Braams and Casey Martin – portraying Lefou and Gaston.

Cogsworth the Butler turned clock was played by Cameron Victor. His performance as the one trying to keep the peace in the castle household while being overrun by the others was hilarious.

Singing and dancing as the townspeople were, from left to right: front row – Lizzie Schlueter, Anneliese Clauson, Josie Watkins, Harlee Pritt, and Kylie Nuckolls; and back row – Emily Welch, Brett Wennihan, Sophie Storm, Audrey Dougherty, and Katey Kroeger.

Kendall Victor played Madame de la Grande Bouche aka The Ward­robe.  Her operatic voice was superb.

Belle, played by Mikaela Sons, right, speaks to the Baker, played by Todd Herron, left.

Rick Sons was the perfect father figure to Belle in his portrayal of her papa, Maurice.

Mrs. Potts and Chip were played by Erica Taylor and 7 year-old Grant Spiegel. Erica’s portrayal of motherly Mrs. Potts was so moving and Grant’s performance as Chip made everyone fall in love with the cute little teacup.

Babette is a flirty little French feather duster, played by Rebekah Gebhards.

Some of the silverware and shaker dancers and singers included, from left to right, Bryna McEnaney, Declan McRaven, Brody Wennihan, Eli Cox, and Austin Helfers.

The over 300 people who filled the seats at Liberty Theatre this past weekend were cast in a fairy-tale glow while watching their favorite thespians take on the roles of their favorite characters in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Everyone sat in awe as character after character, actor after actress, singer after singer and dancer after dancer, gave it their all to bring this much-loved story to life. Liberty Theatre has always been known for providing spectacular performances in a rural setting, and this production did not disappoint. In fact, many who watched the show said it was one of the best, if not the best, and some even dubbed it among the best they’d seen nationwide.
With music by Alan Menken, played by local musicians who hit note after note, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, it was definitely a sight and sound to behold. Unlike some productions, there was no one favorite portrayal in this show, as the main spotlights were equally divided among several different characters and all had outstanding performances.
Belle was portrayed by Mikaela Sons of Rock Port, who has performed in seven other Liberty Theatre productions. Her voice never disappoints and her hilarious facial expressions while dealing with the antics of that annoying Gaston created much laughter and her love of the Beast had many sitting spellbound and holding their breath to see what was next. Even one youngster sitting in the crowd opening night broke the silence during one moving Belle performance with a heartfelt, “Awe.” Belle’s father, Maurice, was played by Mikaela’s father-in-law, Rick Sons, and the relationship of father and daughter shined through in their performance together as a doting daughter and a smart and inventive father. Like almost all the characters on stage, Rick, too, also sang and his voice was just as moving.
The Beast was played by Jordan Andrews, who is an Opera Performance major at Oklahoma City University. Though not from Atchison County (he received his BA in music from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville), Jordan has taken the Liberty Theatre stage many times and is an absolute favorite. His voice is masterful, one no one ever forgets, and his singing as the Beast left most with tears in their eyes and a loud applause from all. His acting is just as exquisite as his singing and his portrayal as the Beast was superb, both in the Beast’s continuous temper tantrums and his lovestruck actions for Belle.
Gaston was played by Casey Martin of Tarkio. After an 11 year hiatus, Casey once again took the stage at Liberty Theatre and made us all think he’d never once left. It’s doubtful any other local actor could have pulled off Gaston the way Casey did. Every time he took the stage he had everyone cracking up at Gaston’s bravado and antics to win Belle’s affection and no one doubted his aim to kill the Beast near the end of the musical. And we definitely can’t overlook the performance of Gaston’s sidekick Lefou, played by Andrew Braams, formerly of Fairfax, Missouri. As perfect as Casey was as Gaston, Andrew was equally as smashing playing Lefou. Poor Lefou does not have Gaston’s strength and stamina and repeatedly got thrown around by his much-larger cohort. Andrew made everyone chuckle with Lefou’s whining of having to go to the woods and his girlish screams at being attacked in the castle. And Andrew’s singing voice was equally as wonderful.
Inside the castle, we had the candelabra Lumiere, played by Clint Dougherty of Rock Port. Clint is not a stranger to the stage at Liberty Theatre and has wowed the crowd as Sebastian in Little Mermaid and Shrek in Shrek the Musical. Clint outdid himself, if that’s possible, in this production as he acquired a French accent to portray Lumiere. And he carried that accent throughout the play, never faltering, even in song. His acting was perfect and he made everyone laugh as Lumiere was a “man” who likes the ladies, including his gal Babette, the feather duster. Babette was played by Rebekah Gebhards of Rock Port. Rebekah, too, took on the French accent and did an outstanding job and Lumiere and Babette’s flirty banter was a hoot!
Another castle favorite was Cogsworth, portrayed by Cameron Victor from Auburn, Nebraska. Cogsworth was the Prince’s butler before he was turned into a clock by the spell. He is always the voice of reason and tries to keep everyone in line to keep the Beast happy. Cameron was perfect as the proper, but much-loved Cogsworth and had many laughing and feeling sorry for the clock who couldn’t quite control his friends.
One of the most well-known and much-loved supporting roles in Beauty and the Beast is Mrs. Potts and her son, Chip. Mrs. Potts was portrayed by Erica Taylor of Rock Port and Chip was played by 7 year-old Grant Spiegel. Erica is not a stranger to the Liberty Theatre stage as this was her 10th production there. Mrs. Potts is the head housekeeper who was transformed into an enchanted teapot along with her son, Chip, who was transformed into a chipped teacup. Erica’s portrayal as the motherly Mrs. Potts was extraordinary and her singing voice in “Tale as Old as Time” was so beautiful it moved many to tears. And though Grant is only 7, he clearly was graced with the acting bug and was outstanding. He never faltered in his lines or actions and was absolutely adorable as the cute little cup that everyone dotes upon.
And not to be overlooked is Madame de la Grande Bouche aka the Wardrobe, played by Kendall Victor of Lincoln, Nebraska. The opera-singer who is now a furniture piece is not pleased to be so large and stuffed with clothing, but helps Belle to dress for the Beast and fall in love. Kendall runs a small private music studio so it’s no wonder that her voice, indeed, sounds like an opera singer’s, amazing everyone with every note hit exquisitely. And even when singing with the others, her high notes left everyone in awe.
There were so many others in this play that wowed the crowd. Even with their small portrayals they hit it dead on and their voices and dance moves made the musical even more memorable. There seriously was not a single person who did not shine in this production, that is why it is truly one of the best. Do NOT miss seeing this musical. Beauty and the Beast will be performed again this weekend: 7 p.m. June 15, 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 16, and 2:30 p.m. June 17. Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.  Call 660-744-5599 to reserve your tickets. Liberty Theatre is located inside the Atchison County Memorial Building on South Main Street in Rock Port.

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