Muncie Civic season opener of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ begins August 12 — Muncie Journal

By Michele Kinsey—

MUNCIE, IN — The Muncie Civic Theater will open its 2022-23 season with a “tale as old as time.”

“Guests” of all ages are invited to “Beauty and the Beast” on the main stage from August 12-14, September 19-21, 26-28 and September 1-4. Performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will begin at 2:30 p.m.

“Beauty and the Beast,” based on a beloved animated feature, is about Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is truly a young prince thanks to the charm of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved before the time runs out, the curse will end and he will be transformed into himself. If he doesn’t, well, he’ll be condemned for eternity.

For Isaac Denniston, being the musical director of this show is a Disney dream come true.

“Disney music like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and other similar movies are what made me want to be a music director,” Denniston said. “I can still remember standing on a running board with a pencil leading songs from this show and other Disney music when I was very young. Now I can do it in real life!

Kalyn Melham, who is “Belle” in the musical, is also a big fan of “Beauty and the Beast.”

“‘Beauty and the Beast’ is one of the most beautiful stories with timeless music,” she said. “I’m a huge Disney fan, no doubt, but I’ve admired this character since I was little. To be able to play this role, whether it’s on screen, on Broadway, or in your backyard, is the same role in the heart of every actor. It’s always been a dream to be able to do that.”

This will be Conner Johnson’s first time on the Civic stage. He will face the “arrogant and egocentric” “Gaston”. “The experience really felt like living in a dream,” he said. “Like a magical rose or a talking piece of furniture, this journey has been immensely and indelibly enchanting.”

And inclusive.

The show’s director, Laura Williamson (who is also Civic’s executive director), created a “family” among the cast and crew.

Denniston said the best part of this experience was “watching different ages, races and personalities come together and grow into a family of 3 months. I literally got to hang out at a club with and stand between a man of 69 and someone in their early twenties.

Melham accepted. “Among the singing, dancing, big lights and all that theater magic, there’s a place for everyone,” she said.

“[The best part has been] watching the formation and growth of a family, while being included in it,” Johnson said. “They’re some of the greatest people I’ve been with in a cast, both in character and in character.”

Melham said she hopes audiences “feel the emotion and dedication that this cast, this crew and this orchestra have volunteered to create.”

That and the magic of Disney, of course.

For tickets and more information, call (765) 288-PLAY or visit www.munciecivic.org.

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