Fridley Community Theatre to present ‘Beauty and the Beast’

by Sam Lenhart

The summer production season at Fridley Community Theatre continues with a “Tale as Old as Time.”

Jordan Nocton (Belle) and Paul Gutmann (Beast) rehearse a dance for the upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Lenhart
Jordan Nocton (Belle) and Paul Gutmann (Beast) rehearse a dance for the upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Lenhart

On July 20, the stage curtains will part and area actors will bring to life the family musical “Beauty and the Beast.” Based on the 1991 Academy Award-winning animated feature, this tale of romance and enchanted household objects will be a hit for everyone.

The Walt Disney classic was one of the most highly anticipated live-action reboots of 2017 and topped the box office charts with $1.26 billion in domestic ticket sales.

“A lot of people grew up with this and everyone is really excited to put it together,” said Fridley Community Theatre board member Tom Peets. “There are so many great songs in ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and I think everyone will enjoy reliving those childhood moments.”

The stage production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” unfolds as an arrogant prince and his castle’s servants are put under a spell by a wicked enchantress. To break the curse, the prince must learn to love and be loved in return or else remain a beast forever.

When Belle’s father goes missing, she finds him as a prisoner of the transformed prince and takes her father’s place. With the help of his enchanted servants, Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of the darkness.

“I think that people who come see the show are going to leave with a Broadway experience but they don’t have to go to New York to see it,” said Peets. “We have worked so hard and the sets and the production value alone is just amazing. It amazes me what these people can put together. It is going to be a fantastic show.”

The cast includes Jordan Nocton as Belle and Paul Gutmann as Beast. Other featured performers include Steve Colman as Gaston, Kerry Bender as Maurice, Alex Schmuck as Cogsworth, Gus Franchere as Lumiere, Matt Menke as LeFou, Cindy Pierce as Mrs. Potts and Ryan Seal as Chip.

Cast and crew come from all over the Twin Cities, including Andover, Blaine, Coon Rapids and Spring Lake Park. The actor playing Chip is from Blaine.

Nocton, whose father died a week before auditions, said playing Belle has been like therapy.

“I planned on auditioning and then my dad ended up passing away, and a part of me was like, ‘No, this isn’t my year,’ but then I thought that it could be a really good place to express myself and be present, so I went for it,” she said. “Playing Belle has also given me the opportunity to play a role in a father-daughter dynamic. There is a song in the play that Belle and her father sing and it is about the relationship that fathers and daughters have, so for me that has been therapeutic and a way for me to honor my dad. It has been hard, but I see it as a way for me to give tribute.”

Nocton also said she is excited to play a powerhouse character that is confident and genuine.

“I am really excited to play a character that so many young girls idolize,” she said. “She embraces who she is and I want to embody that. Wearing the big yellow gown is also a highlight.”

Gutmann will be hiding behind horns and fur for his role as the Beast and says society could learn a thing or two from the cursed prince.

“I feel like men are taught to not express their emotions and I see the Beast as a prime example of that,” he said. “He has such a hard time letting kindness in, but once he feels love from someone else, he becomes a completely different person and I think we can all take something away from that. I am really excited to a part of this.”

Head director is Tom Larson, technical director is Dan Wold, music director is Zach Busch, choreographer is Jamie Shively and the stage manager is Stacy Bender.

Held in the recently renovated Fridley High School auditorium, 6000 W. Moore Lake Drive NE, the performances are July 20, 21, 27, 28 at 7 p.m. A matinée performance take place on July 29 at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for students and are available for purchase online at SeatYourself.biz, by calling 763-502-5100 or in person at the Fridley Community Center.

If available, tickets can also be purchased at the door for that day’s performance beginning an hour before the show.

If you require wheelchair accessible seating or any other special services, call 763-502-5100 or email [email protected]

Proceeds from the show will benefit the Fridley Community Theatre programs.

[email protected]