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LMS production is sixth in past five years;

 

by Contributing Writer – Amy Hall

Cole McCreary as the Beast and Audri Wells as Belle.Cole McCreary as the Beast and Audri Wells as Belle.It’s a tale as old as time. A young French maiden finds love in an unlikely place – a hideous beast. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a story that has captivated audiences for years and this week students at Louisa Middle School will be bringing it to life.

This is the sixth play performed at Louisa Middle School in the past five years. Work on the play began well before Christmas and even though they have had some difficulties with scheduling because of snow days, everyone involved is excited to see their work become reality. “In the past we’ve done Rogers and Hammerstein musicals but we’ve completed their series for middle school. Now we’ve decided to try Disney’s middle school versions,” said music education teacher and performing arts director Tonya Castle.

 They chose to perform Beauty and the Beast first because of its recent re-release on Blu-ray disc and its familiar story line. The story itself stays true to the popular animated feature, including the same characters, story line, and songs. This play is a true depiction of the movie version with a very slight alternate ending,” Castle said.

 Nearly sixty students are involved in the play. Principal Tom Castle points out that this means that 1 of every 7 students is in the play, which is huge for the arts program at the middle school. “We have very talented kids and some have more than one role,” Tonya Castle said.

The two leads are played by a relative newcomer and an experienced performer. First, the Beast is portrayed by Cole McCreary, an 8th grader who has never acted before. He tried out for the play because he is, “a math and science guy and I want to be more well-rounded.” Also an athlete in tennis and football, McCreary expressed nervousness about playing such a large role in this production. “I’m nervous because I don’t know which way to act,” he said. “But every actor is different so each play is different.”

Belle, on the other hand, is portrayed by 8th grader Audri Wells, who has been in twelve productions, including two previous Louisa Middle School plays. She was the lead in last year’s play, The King & I, playing Anna. Wells is also a member of the Paramount Players, a group of actors who perform in community theatre at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland. Most recently she played the role of Louanne in Hairspray. She first started doing plays in the third grade and she found it so much fun that before long it became her hobby. Now acting takes up the majority of her time but, “I like doing it so I don’t mind,” she said.

Being in the school play is different from being in a Paramount play, but she enjoys it because it is where she got her start. “It’s a learning experience because we have people that have never been in plays. It’s neat to see how everything comes together,” Wells said.

Playing Belle is also something that she is very excited about. “When I was little, I always connected with Belle the most. If I could play any Disney princess, I would pick Belle. She’s an unconventional princess because she wasn’t born into it like the other Disney princesses. She’s not a typical ‘damsel in distress.’ She’s independent.”

Wells hopes to be in many more plays in the future, and is even looking at a career on Broadway. “Broadway is something I want to do, but I’d rather get my college degree first then go to New York,” she said.

 Laken Fitch will play Mrs. PottsLaken Fitch will play Mrs. PottsAnother LMS Performing Arts Alumnus, Kortney Shirkey has also enjoyed being in every LMS Spring Musical since her sixth grade year when she was cast in the lead role of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Once Upon a Mattress: The Story of the Princess and the Pea. She also performed in the Paramount’s production of Hairspray. “ I played a guard and was a lead dancer. It was a lot of hard work, but one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I believe that performing has helped me to build my self confidence. Performing on stage is something I look forward to now – I do not dread it any more. I started out performing in second grade and it feels great that I have expanded my performing abilities to the community stage. I look forward to singing, acting, and dancing in many more plays in the future,” said Kortney.

All of the students are very enthusiastic to see their hard work come to life. “I’m really excited and I think we’ll do good,” said Laken Fitch, an eighth grader who plays Mrs. Potts.

Lexie Grayson, a seventh grader who plays a shepherdess, was very proud of her part in the play. “We’ve worked long and hard. It’s an honor to be part of this production,” she said.

Supporting the arts in Lawrence County Schools is very important to all involved. Lawrence County head football coach and Louisa Middle School assistant principal Joey Cecil expressed his love of the arts. “The more opportunities we give students, the better the education. It gives another way for students to express themselves,” he said. Cecil also made comparisons between the arts and athletics, noting that not only do they both allow expression, but both include a live performance that has immediate gratification.

Tonya Castle said that, “It is important to come and support this [play] and show the kids that the community supports them and it’s important to keep the arts in Lawrence County Schools.”

Castle wishes to extend a special thank you to Donna West, Bill Hammond, Eric Abbott, Sheri Perry, Samatha Penix, Molly Webb, Kim Keeton, Tom Castle, Joey Cecil, Teresa Parsons, Lorie Blevins, Deanna West of the 21st Century ALIVE (Advancing Local Involvement via Education) Program, and Luanne Kelly of the Youth Service Center.

Performances of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be Thursday and Friday evenings, May 19th and 20th, at 7:00 p.m. in the Louisa Middle School Performing Arts Center. Both performances are open to the public. Tickets are $3 for adults and $1 for students and can be purchased in advance at Louisa Middle School or at the door.

For more information, contact Tonya Castle or Donna West at 638-4090.


 

Harley's first trip was a giant hit!

On Saturday the wife and I loaded up Harley and CD and headed toward Camden Park. It was opening day for 2011 and the kids had a blast.

The park was clean and everything was running fine. It was Harley's first time to ride -  he loved it. As many of you know, the park opened in 1903 and is still going strong. It is an awesome place for the kids. It made me think of all the good times I had there as a kids, and I want my son to have as much fun as I did growing up -  at Camden Park.

They had Season Passes on sale for only $89.99 and they were buy 3 get 1 free and a season parking pass and you also get 10% off at the local McDonalds in the area.

(See slideshow on front page)

 



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