Who doesn’t love adventure, romance, and dancing dinnerware? Disney fans are in luck — Penn State Thespians created its own rendition of Beauty and the Beast for its spring musical.
The classic tale has become something of a nationwide sensation over the past few months. Since the release of director Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson earlier this year, the hype around the beloved child’s tale has resurfaced.
For those who need a refresher on this story, the premise of Beauty and the Beast is actually quite simple. A beautiful, intelligent young woman named Belle dreams of a life far more rewarding than the one her provincial small town can provide. But without a reasonable escape plan and her eccentric elderly father to take care of, Belle’s dreams of moving beyond her hometown seem nearly impossible — that is, until her father becomes a prisoner in a mysterious castle. When Belle sets off to find him, she discovers a terrible beast inside the enchanted building. Belle offers her own capture in exchange for her father’s freedom, and so officially begins the whirlwind tale of Beauty and the Beast.
Play director and senior Max Levine is no newbie to the acting scene — he’s been with the Penn State Thespians since the fall semester of his freshmen year. Though this is his first time directing a show with the Thespians, he’s directed two other shows with No Refund Theatre and acted in several plays throughout his tenure at Penn State. And when it came time to face the arguably daunting task of choosing his cast, Levine truly couldn’t complain — for him, the actors were an absolute dream to work with.
“As a director, I’ve always believed that 80 percent of the job is making sure you pick the right people and that absolutely held up this time,” he said. “The actors helped me through every aspect of this process because it’s a gigantic ordeal, but they stuck with me every step of the way.”
Freshman Melissa Elliot stars as the lead of the musical. When she first began rehearsals, connecting with Belle came easily. In fact, she almost likens the beginning of her own experience at Penn State to the start of Belle’s journey in the musical.
“Belle is such an iconic character and she just has so much spunk and life in her that I think it’s very easy to connect with that,” Elliot said. “Especially as a freshman in college where this is all new to me, it was really easy to put myself in Belle’s shoes as she’s experiencing all of these new and exciting adventures for the first time too.”
Penn State’s production of Beauty and the Beast is certainly not one you’re going to want to miss. As cliché as it sounds, the show had me laughing, crying, and wishing I was talented enough to get up there and perform in it myself. The cast and crew are both talented and passionate — a combination that makes the musical simply spectacular.
If you want to check out this rendition of the Disney favorite, showtimes are this Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee showing on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. You can reserve tickets in advance here, but you must purchase them at the door. The tickets are $4.98 for students, $4.99 for children under 12, and $12 for community members. For more information, check out the event Facebook page here.