Local actors and musicians will take the stage this week to bring the musical “Beauty and the Beast” to life in Flandreau.
The lead parts of Belle and Beast will be played by performers who started on stage at young ages and are familiar with the Crystal Theatre. Jason Unger, a Flandreau lawyer and city council member, will play Beast, while Samantha Fleet, a South Dakota State University student from Lake Benton, Minn., has the part as Belle.
Unger was in several Missoula Children’s Theater productions as a child growing up Appleton, Wisc., and started working with the local theater in “Grease” several years ago. “I was Harold Hill in ‘The Music Man.’ I was Willy Wonka in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’” he said.
Fleet, who is majoring in human development and family studies, started acting at age 5 and has been in several productions – including “Cinderella,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Little Mermaid” and “The Marvelous Wonderettes” in Pipestone, Minn. The mezzo soprano played Jane in “Tarzan” at the Crystal Theatre.
Her favorite musical is “Beauty and the Beast” so she said had to try out and is in the show with her mother, Kim Fleet, who is a background character and in the ensemble.
“We both love the show. We’ve always wanted to be in it. This is another time for us, mother-daughter bonding,” she said.
Samantha Fleet said she expresses herself through musicals. “It’s been a really good experience. I love working with everyone there,” she said. “It’s the whole environment where everyone’s working together to create something fun for people. People love musicals because it’s like a movie, only it’s live.”
Fleet said the audience will be surprised at how hard the actors playing the parts of inanimate objects have worked to be believable. “The work they’ve put into doing that is really coming to life, and it’s really going to be cool,” she said. “I think the audience is going to be surprised at the amount of commitment everyone has put into the show.”
Unger, whose father is a worship and music director and will be visiting from North Carolina to see the show, said the music is done well, with a band to help the vocal numbers sound professional.
“I think we’ll live up to their expectations on that,” he said. Costuming is impressive and bold, too, including his as Beast. “I didn’t know what to expect. It is a very hairy mess.”
Unger has learned new skills in his acting, is in a fight scene, dances and sings.
“I have to get used to growling and yelling a lot,” he said. “The musical is fun.”
Other main parts include Tim Yeaton as Gaston, Jeremy Haugen as Maurice, Bronwyn Jones as
Mrs. Potts, Ted Kulm as Cogsworth, Austin Kulm as Lumiere, Wyatt Baumberger as Chip, Erica Knippling as Madam De La Grand Bouche, Kirsten Thompson as Babette, Ben DeWeerd as Lafou, Ben Kulm as Gaston’s and Lafou’s sidekick, Matt Lacey as Monsieur D’Arque and Bridgette Baumberger as the beggar woman and princess. Others are cast as the prince, wolves and silly girls. Everyone who auditioned for the play ended up getting parts as townspeople or enchanted objects, said Dan Sutton, director.
Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are reserved seating and are available for $18 for adults and $10 for those 12 and under. Call 864-0517 to purchase tickets.