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Draper Historic Theatre Brings Magic of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to the Stage

Apr 07, 2016 01:37PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Kelly Cannon | kelly@mycityjournals.com

Draper - The Draper Historic Theatre invited residents to be their guests during its run of the musical “Beauty and the Beast.” The play opened on Feb. 26 and ran through March 19. The large cast included not only principal characters but also a group of teen ensemble actors and a septet of little girls playing dancing napkins.

The play told the story of Belle, a smart bookworm who doesn’t feel she fits in her town. She is later imprisoned by a beast. The beast and his staff are under a powerful spell until he can learn to love and be loved in return. The play was similar to the Disney movie of the same title, with many of the same songs. Other songs were added to the musical, such as “If I Can’t Love Her,” “Is This Home?” and “Human Again.”

The musical was directed by Marc Navez, who also played the role of the villain Gaston. Navez said he had previously worked with the Draper Historic Theatre to produce “Mary Poppins,” which was wildly successful. This led him to want to do another Disney musical.

“I’ve always wanted to do ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” Navez said. “It’s on my bucket list.”

Navez’s vision for the production was to pay homage to the Disney movie. Navez explained that the Broadway play is different than the movie, but people from Utah won’t have a chance to see the Broadway play unless they travel to New York or a traveling show comes here. 

“People who are not familiar with the Broadway show will see moments they recognize from the movie, so we did it as similar to the movie as we could,” Navez said.

As such, Navez cast the play by looking for actors who reminded him of the characters in the animated movie.

“I looked for them to walk in in real life and sound like them, talk like them and move like them,” Navez said. 

The biggest challenge for the production was the fact that the Draper Historic Theatre is in the middle of a renovation to update its facilities. Because of this, the cast wasn’t able to rehearse on stage until the middle of the rehearsal period. 

“It’s hard to work around that,” Navez said.

The other major challenge for Navez personally was tailoring his dream production to the space provided by the Draper Historic Theatre.

“I have such a big vision, but it’s such a little stage,” Navez said. “It can be a little difficult.”

Spencer Thurman from West Jordan played the role of the Beast. Thurman was on break from musicals when he saw an advertisement for “Beauty and the Beast” and thought it would be a fun play to be a part of.

“I originally auditioned for Gaston, but I was cast as the Beast,” Thurman said. “I didn’t think I would be a good fit for the Beast, but once I started talking and acting like the Beast, I fell in love.”

The hardest part of the production for Thurman was learning the songs. Thurman himself is self-taught and never took voice lessons. However, he was helped by other cast members to receive instructions, which helped him become a better singer and a better actor. 

Thurman’s favorite part of the play was singing the song “If I Can’t Love Her.”

“In the beginning, he’s so upset he can’t love that he gives up. Then he realizes he loves Belle,” Thurman said. “And then if he can’t love her, who can he love?”

Brindy Gray from Herriman played the role of Belle, something that’s been a dream role for her. 

“It’s every girl’s fantasy to be Belle,” Gray said. “I love singing the songs.”

Gray’s favorite song was “A Change in Me” because she could relate to it.

“In the beginning, she loves books and fantasy, but then she realizes that real life is much better than fantasy,” Gray said. “We all have that process of falling in love with our own lives.” 

Gray also struggled with the little space provided by the Draper Historic Theatre. 

“It has been a challenge, but when you use every part of the space, it comes alive,” Gray said. “It’s a challenge to bring it to life on a grand scale and to learn how to move around. You have so much going on, but that’s where the magic happens.” 

The next production for the Draper Historic Theatre will be “Noises Off,” which will open on May 13. For more information, visit drapertheatre.org.   

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