Urbana Puts Their Flair on a Classic Fairytale

Maddi Rihn

The Beauty and the Beast informative mural hangs in the auditorium prior to the show's opening night on April 7.
Maddi Rihn
The Beauty and the Beast informative mural hangs in the auditorium prior to the show’s opening night on April 7.

We all know that when a cherished story meets the Urbana theatre department, something great will result from it. Mark your calendars everyone, the classic fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast is coming to Urbana this April.

Urbana’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast features seniors Sarah Robinson and Connor Cochran as Belle and the Beast. This year was a record turnout for auditions, and only about fifty out of over one hundred performers were chosen for roles in the show. “Everyone wanted to be a part of the show,” said Robinson.

Though the competition was intense, it did not affect the fun of the audition process. Theatre teacher and director Mary Lennon said that because the show was so familiar, the level of creativity with auditions was very high. Cochran described the audition process as “rigorous” but “enjoyable.”

The creative minds behind this production include director Mary Lennon, assistant director Stephen Ward, vocal director Monika McCormick, and choreographer Stephanie Weigelt. When it comes to the arts, Urbana is never one to blend in with the crowd, which is why this spring’s musical will feature its own Urbana twist.

Urbana’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast is based more on the Broadway version of the story rather than the film version. Music teacher and vocal director Monika McCormick said the show includes many new songs that are not in the movie version, as well as lyrics that have changed.

Directing allows the possibility for lots of creativity, which is exactly why Lennon loves it. “Don’t come expecting exactly the movie,” she said. Lennon’s changes to the show include swapping the original Renaissance setting for a 1950’s setting instead. She also slightly altered the storyline, which will remain a surprise until the shows in April.

“Ms. Lennon always comes in with a neat twist that makes [the show] interesting,” said McCormick.

Robinson explained that the twist “adds fun to the play, and makes the audience think.”

Most performers attend three hour long rehearsals, two to three times a week, and leads are practicing after school almost every day. Cochran said the best part of the process of putting together a show is “getting to grow into a role”, as well as being around friends. He also enjoys the storytelling aspect of theatre.

Lennon said, “High school theatre should be about the process, and how you feel when it’s done.”

A lot of hard work and time goes into the show, but the resulting product is of course very rewarding. Performers would agree that after nine to ten weeks of rehearsals, getting to share it with an audience is the best part. Robinson said the audience can expect “comedy and romance”, as well as “really good performances by the ensemble and cast”.

Urbana’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast is a lighthearted, very fun show. You can see it April 7 and 8 at 7pm or April 9 at 1pm or 7pm.