This year, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church will stage the classic, “Beauty and the Beast.”
DR. PHILLIPS Every summer since 2012, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church has put on a theatrical production, but this summer’s show marks a new era for the church’s theater ministry.
Not only will this show have the largest cast to date, but also it will be the first show in the church’s new theater — Founders Hall.
“We used to be housed in the gymnasium for the last five years, so we’re really excited,” Director Steve MacKinnon said.
This year’s show will be the Broadway musical “Beauty and the Beast” and includes a cast of more than 90 actors.
“One of the biggest challenges is the sheer size of the production and the cast,” MacKinnon said. “Trying to coordinate 90 people for rehearsals is challenging.”
The massive cast also has proven to be a challenge for choreographer Spencer Morrow, who said this show’s cast is the largest of his career.
“You want to give everyone that stage time and tell the story,” Morrow said. “Everybody brings so much life to each character, it literally creates a village on stage.”
But despite the challenges, Morrow said this production is one of the best that the ministry has ever done.
“This is the most magical,” he said. “I think we give it a little something different. Part of it is the cast and part of it is what Steve and I cook together.”
When planning for the summer production began back in January, MacKinnon said there was a specific reason they chose “Beauty and the Beast.”
“We chose this show because of its message,” MacKinnon said. “It’s really in line with our core values of acceptance, service and hospitality.”
Even some of the actors have realized deeper meaning to the classic “Beauty and the Beast” story.
“You realize that there’s good in everyone,” said Shonn McCloud, who plays the role of the Beast. “But everyone has their own beast in their life that they deal with.”
But one of the best parts of having such a large show is getting to know everyone in the cast.
“That’s part of why we do it — for the community aspect to bring everyone together,” MacKinnon said. “We’ve got a cast that ranges from 8 to 80.”
While most people are probably familiar with the Disney film “Beauty and the Beast,” the Broadway musical is a different rendition of the classic tale.
“There are more songs than in the animated film, but musicals speak to everyone, because of how they tell the story,” MacKinnon said. “They sing because they’re so impassioned, and I think we all can relate to that sense of passion in our life.”
For Lily MacKenzie, who is cast in the role of Belle, playing the role of a Disney princess has been a dream come true.
After acting in several of the church’s other summertime productions, MacKenzie said it has been interesting to watch the program grow and become an established part of the church.
“It’s been fun to see the evolution from the first show to this one,” she said. “I feel it’s very established and everything has just come together.”
So far, tickets have been selling faster than any production the church has put on before, with about 80% of tickets already sold.
“People are definitely excited about it,” MacKinnon said. “I’m excited to see with with an audience and share it. It’s kind of a catharsis to see it open. It’s the best part for me. It’s almost a celebration.”
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].