To be a Disney princess is a dream that most every girl possesses, and for Lauren Johnson it’s made true as she plays Belle in the Tippecanoe High School stage production of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ The beloved musical brings all of the stories characters to life for four performances, April 18 - 21 at the Tippecanoe Center for Performing Arts.
A junior, Johnson is thrilled with the opportunity to fulfill one of her deepest wishes. “What girl doesn’t want to be a Disney princess?” she asked.
Belle has always been a favorite of Johnsons, at first because of their physical resemblance, and then for some less superficial reasons as she grew older. ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ contains a number of moral lessons, as Belle discovers that first impressions can sometimes be deceiving.
It’s far from love at first sight, when Belle meets the Beast, but her feelings change once she see’s what’s beneath his outer surface.
“I learned that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that sometimes when things don’t go as planned it ends up being for the better,” said Johnson.
The Beast is played by Max Witeof, senior, who also embraces the chance to play an iconic character. In preparing for the role, Witeof noticed some similarities between himself and the heart of the Beast. “When I first meet someone I’m kind of indifferent, but once I warm-up and get to know them I see their good qualities. Over the course of the play that’s one of the things the beast learns,” he said.
For Witeof his biggest obstacle in the role is making the beast a sympathetic figure rather than just a wild animal. “It’s a challenge keeping the humanity while playing someone whose inhuman,” he said.
Though Johnson has appeared in other shows, it’s her first musical lead and has never sung in front of a crowd before. She’s overcome her fears and is anxious to let her voice shine.
As a ‘Silly Girl,’ Kailee Tateman, shares the sentiment of the other seniors, who are bittersweet about their final performance. They are glad to end on such a high quality show but sad that the curtain is closing on their high school acting careers.
Tateman has thoroughly enjoyed her theater experiences, which include parts in ’How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,’ ‘12 Angry Jurors,’ and ‘Rumors.’ “It gets your out of your shell, allows you to meet new people, and to entertain others,” she said.
She’s also gained a greater appreciation for the benefits of teamwork. “You don’t have to be the best singer, dancer or actor because everyone works together to be a giant of greatness,” said Tateman.
When leaving the movie theater after first seeing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Mr. Jim Sagona, director, was instantly drawn to the film. He’s fond of the Broadway type music it contained and the stage show has seven additional songs, which Sagona says are some of the best.
As if the music, costumes, and special effects weren’t enough, the heartwarming story of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is reason alone for all ages to enjoy the performance. “I’d rather it be an experience for the audience than just a show,” said Johnson.
Experience ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ on Thursday, April 18, Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, April 21 at 2:30 p.m. Senior Citizens are invited to the Thursday performance for free. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. All seating is reserved. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at www.tippdrama.com.