Fire & Light Brings the Enchantment of Beauty & the Beast to USF PAC
It’s no hyperbole to say that, since the debut of the animated film in 1991, Disney’s Beauty & the Beast has been one of the most popular stories of our time. With a talented pool of young performers at their fingertips, Fire & Light – a company which provides both classes and productions for young actors in our area – is in a perfect position to perform the Jr. version of Beauty & the Beast for rabid audiences. Lisa Ellis, director of Fire & Light, was anxious to bring the story back to their stage, especially now that their stage is the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, a considerable improvement over the last time they performed the piece.
“It’s a beautiful story, and the last time we did it we were on a much smaller stage,” Ellis said. “But the story of love and grace and loyalty is told so well, and the Saint Francis stage allows for the animation and projection that are part of the show. It’s a great opportunity to do the story honor.”
Of course, in addition to the animated classic, Disney also released a live action version of the film in 2017. Starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the title characters, that film has won over a new audiences, which begged the question: which version do the performers at Fire & Light tend to prefer?
“I think they lean toward the animated version,” said Sara Scantlin, who is directing the cast of 54 – ages 7-14 – in Beauty & the Beast. “It’s interesting because they’re like a bunch of little adults who are analyzing all the cinematic aspects of the film, and they love the story. But they really seem to relate to the animated one more.”
The cast is like a bunch of little adults beyond their ability to analyze a story. They also come to rehearsals prepared and ready to explore their characters.
“They take what they’re doing very seriously,” Scantlin said. “When we’re working on a scene, they come to it with their lines memorized. They come in knowing their lines so they are ready to get into the characters.”
“We have a policy to learn their lines early so they can play with the characters,” Ellis added. “It’s very common for them to know their lines by the time they audition.”
“And they say things like ‘I feel like my character would do this,’” Scantlin said. “So they’re very much involved in the process.”
Many of the Fire & Light cast members and students are home schooled, are online schooled, or attend private schools which allow them some flexibility. Rehearsals are two afternoons a week for 12 weeks, providing them ample time to throw themselves into the process. Part of that process is costumes which will be elaborate, a surprise to no one familiar with the story. But fortunately full costumes aren’t necessary to prepare for the performances.
“For some of the larger and more elaborate costumes, the costumer has made a frame so the student can get used to it,” Scantlin said. “The costumes are fantastic. We wanted to costumes to be set pieces, and when we showed the costumer the pictures, she couldn’t wait to get started. She had great vision and understood what we needed. There were a lot of costumes needed with each character having two costumes and with the transformation of the castle staff.”
Fire & Light will once again feature transformations in their May production of Brigadoon, directed by Ellis and starring the young students of their company. For more information about their upcoming productions and to purchase tickets, visit fireandlightproductions.com.