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Actors gear up for classic tale of 'Beauty & the Beast'

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Two casts comprising 65 actors each, ranging in age from 6 to 20, are busy in rehearsals for their next show, “Disney’s Beauty & the Beast.” El Dorado Musical Theatre, fresh off their Sept. 25 Elly wins, are throwing themselves into the tale as old as time. The musical opens Oct. 28 at Three Stages in Folsom. Braiden Wells, an 18-year-old Folsom Lake College student, took home a win for his role as Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray.” In the latest show, he’s also donning heavy makeup as The Beast in the mirror cast. “It was so exciting to receive the Elly,” Wells said. “The Beast is a really tough role because you play the angry side. He’s so angry he’s been placed in this (position). But there is also a man underneath and a sensitive side.” He said he looks forward to seeing how children in the audience will react. “I’m hoping kids won’t be scared of me after the show,” he said. “They shouldn’t be because by the end, I’m human. The kids are so much fun.” Wells is studying general education so he can transfer to study theater arts at a four-year college. “I’m hoping for a career in theater,” he said. “My parents are very supportive.” Katherine Sorgea, a 20-year-old Folsom Lake College student, is taking on the role of Belle in the mirror cast. “This was one of the first Disney movies I saw in the movie theater,” Sorgea said. “The character is so well known. This is like a dream come true for me. Every girl wants to be a Disney princess.” She said kids watching the show help make the experience that much better. “Kids in the audience are so cute because they are dressed like you,” she said. Carly Speno, a 16-year-old Oak Ridge High School student, is Belle in the rose cast. “It’s magical playing a Disney princess,” Speno said. “It’s really different because everyone knows who the princesses are and when you go see them, everyone is looking for a certain personality.” She said playing a role such as Belle carries some responsibility. “I always try to be a model for the younger kids,” Speno said. “All the little kids (in the cast) definitely look up to you.” Jonathan Cramner, a 16-year-old Folsom High School student, said he’s trying to draw from the well-known Gaston as seen in the Disney movie. He’s in the mirror cast. “It’s hard to draw from a character with such a deep voice who is big and domineering,” Cramner said. “It’s a lot of fun. The kids really like the show and a lot of times they get us to sign their playbills.” For costume designer Christine Martorana, it’s a daunting task to create looks for 130 cast members. “It’s crazy,” she said. “It’s done fast. We try to have everyone use them twice. Everyone is a villager (as well as a) character in the cast.” There are a lot of costumes to craft. “There are probably 60 to 70 enchanted objects (costumes) and there are basic pieces worn underneath all of those,” Martorana said. “There are probably 200 additional pieces for villagers and miscellaneous characters like wolves and specialty characters. We also do hair pieces and wigs for everyone.” Director and choreographer Debbie Wilson, who also took home an Elly, said they have eight weeks to whip the show into shape. “We have 14 kids in this show who were in the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ 2005 show,” she said. “It’s fun to see what they were (then) and what they are now.” She said they put a lot of sweat and tears into rehearsals because they are important. “We’ve got to work hard,” Wilson said. “It’s not worth their time if they don’t work hard. I want them to feel happy about what they’ve done.” * * * “Disney’s Beauty & the Beast” Who: Presented by El Dorado Musical Theatre When: 7 p.m., Oct. 28-29, Nov. 3-5, Nov. 10-12; 2 p.m. Oct. 29-30, Nov. 5-6, Nov. 12-13 Where: Three Stages, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Tickets: $15-$29 Bargain nights: $14.50 all seats for Nov. 3, 10 Info: edmt.info, threestages.net