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Features

TownSquare Players bring 'beastly magical' Disney classic to Woodstock Opera House

TownSquare Players’ production on weekends features plenty of locals

Tim Vance of Chicago plays Gaston while Aaron Gomez of Lake in the Hills is LeFou in 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Woodstock Opera House
Tim Vance of Chicago plays Gaston while Aaron Gomez of Lake in the Hills is LeFou in 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Woodstock Opera House

Bringing the magic of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” alive on the Woodstock Opera House stage wasn’t easy.

The TownSquare Players’ musical production involves a cast of 26 and at least 65 more volunteers providing the behind-the-scenes manpower needed to transform the stage into an enchanting fairy tale. 

“We kind of said it was a beast of a show, but also beastly magical,” said Sue Falbo, president of TownSquare Players, the oldest active nonprofit community theater group in McHenry County.

TownSquare Players sought the rights for the Disney classic for five years because of its appeal to both young and old, Falbo said, and, finally, the timing was right to bring it to the Opera House stage.

The musical follows the storyline of the classic 1991 Disney film of the same name. Young, independent Belle is captured by a ferocious monster, the victim of a curse placed long ago by an enchantress. The curse only can be reversed if the Beast learns to love and is loved by someone else in return.

“The one thing I love that our directing team did was we kept it very true to the movie we all love and the Disney Broadway show we all love,” Falbo said. “When you come, you get what you expect, but more.”

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – The Musical” will be performed weekends through March 23 at the Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock. 

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, with only a 2 p.m. production March 23. Tickets range in cost from $18 to $25 for adults and from $16 to $23 for students and seniors at www.woodstockoperahouse.com or 815-338-5300.

“What I’m just so proud of is all of the elements coming together,” Falbo said of the efforts of the cast and crew, including the directing team, those in the orchestra, set and costume designers and more.

“It’s beautiful,” she said of the production. 

Those involved set out to relay the humanity of the story, including the importance of inner-beauty, understanding, love and compassion, as well as the enchantment through both the characters and the visual aspects of the production. 

Among the cast are Cassidy Reich of Union as Belle, William T. Roberts of Libertyville as Beast, Tim Vance of Chicago as Gaston and Aaron Gomez of Lake in the Hills as LeFou.

“One of the things I always love is seeing the cast from the first rehearsal transform themselves into the characters that the audience sees on stage,” Producer Karen Cook said. “It is a magical experience that I’m so proud to be part of.”

The castle also becomes a character, Artistic Director Billy Sager said. 

“It has a life. It breathes. It speaks to the characters,” he said.

Containing multiple production numbers and scene changes in the smaller confines of the historic Opera House, a show as big as “Beauty and the Beast” wasn’t done lightly. 

Those involved were determined not only to capture the whimsical, magical nature of the show, but also the heart of the fairy tale in what they described as a “labor of love.”

All worked hard to ensure everything flows together seamlessly, Choreographer Bridget Kuehnert said, including some challenging choreography.

“The final picture will be so stunning for our audiences, but this cast and production team has put an enormous amount of work into making this magic happen,” she said.

The actors, singers and dancers all give their own spin on the well-known story, and the community theater production is on par with any professional theater in the area, say those involved.

“There are so many talented individuals involved, so many wonderful characters and exciting, moving and memorable songs,” Sager said. “Valuable lessons are jam-packed into this two-act musical, but if you leave the theater thinking one thing, I hope it is this: ‘I should go to the theater more often.’

“Sitting in a room of strangers and simultaneously experiencing a story about compassion, understanding and love? Sounds like something we all need right about now.”

If you Go

“DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – THE MUSICAL”

WHEN: March 8-10, 15-17 and 21-23. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, with only a 2 p.m. production March 23.

WHERE: Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock

COST & INFO: TowSquare Players presents an adaption of Disney Pictures’ Academy Award-winning 1991 animated musical film of the same name, based on the classic French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Tickets for adults cost $25 for A seating, $22 for B seating and $18 for C seating. Tickets for students and seniors cost $23 for A seating, $20 for B seating and $16 for C seating. Tickets and information: www.woodstockoperahouse.com or 815-338-5300.

Cast list

Cassidy Reich: Belle (Union)

William T. Roberts: Beast (Libertyville)

Tim Vance: Gaston (Chicago)

John Barnett: Lumiere (Woodstock)

Tania Joy: Mrs. Potts (Woodstock)

Alex Fayer: Cogsworth (Woodstock)

Aaron Gomez: LeFou (Lake in the Hills)

Travis Greuel: Maurice (Woodstock)

Emily Robles: Madame de la Grande Bouche (Cary)

Deanna Golema: Babette (Huntley)

William Madigan: Chip (Woodstock)

Randy Peterkort: Monsieur D’arque/Bookseller (Algonquin)

Larisa Belle:  Silly Girl/Ensemble* (Johnsburg)

Kelsey Rosenorn: Silly Girl/Ensemble* (McHenry)

Savannah Thomas: Silly Girl/Ensemble* (Libertyville)

Ariella Simandl: Enchantress/Ensemble (Wonder Lake)

Liam Bell: Young Prince (Johnsburg)

Austin Krause: Ensemble (Huntley)

Erin O’Brien: Ensemble (Woodstock)

Christian Parks: Ensemble* (McHenry)

Grace Schulz: Ensemble (Harvard)

Ethan Sherman: Ensemble* (Huntley)

Eric Torres: Ensemble (West Dundee)

Joseph Walsdorf: Ensemble (Woodstock)

Kevin Wright: Ensemble* (Woodstock)

Heidi Zapp: Ensemble (Woodstock)

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