It may be a tale as old as time, but the Chilliwack School of Performing Arts (CSOPA) says they’re offering a fresh rendition of Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical when they bring Disney’s hit to the stage at the HUB International Theatre this month.
“I don’t want to give any of the goodies away,” says 18-year-old Yiorgos Sahamis, who plays the Beast. “We’re doing a few things differently, I think it works with the story, and I think (the audience) will really like it.”
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Sahamis, like many of his fellow cast members, has been a part of CSOPA for years, having found a place at a young age where he can not only express himself, but also prepare for his future.
“I’ve learned so much, and not just with acting,” he says, adjusting his furry costume claws. “When it comes to work ethic, working with people, and building relationships, my time here has definitely been well spent. I think it’ll help me a lot when I go off to school, and for the rest of my life.”
“If I’m being very formal, we’re a pre-professional youth theatre company,” says Lisa Braun, CSOPA’s Art Director. But it’s about so much more than that for those involved.
“Everyone always thinks theatre is about performance—and it is—but what happens behind the scenes, over the development of a show, you can’t put a price on the interpersonal development that occurs for each of these performers. It just makes them better citizens: they’re able to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes, think like someone else and develop empathy,” adds Braun, who’s also the musical’s director.
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When the curtain rises on opening night, CSOPA’s cast members will have spent more than 700 hours rehearsing to ensure their version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical meets or exceeds the audiences expectations.
“It’s not going to be the old boring routine Beauty and the Beast,” says 14-year-old Malone Hanson, who has several roles in the musical. “It’s not just a love story (anymore). There’s a lot more intensity and emotion than anyone would expect.”
“We work with industry professionals, and we work at a professional level with our students,” explains Braun. “We raise the bar to a level of expectation that is higher than what most people would expect, (but our students) are highly skilled performers who can rise to a level of excellence that is inspiring.”
CSOPA will be performing Disney’s Beauty and Beast: The Broadway Musical from Jan. 10 to 21 at the Chilliwack Cultural Theatre. Tickets are $24.30 for adults, $20.30 for students and seniors, and can be purchased online at tickets.chilliwackculturalcentre.ca, or by calling 604-391-SHOW (7469).