The Community Theatre League will present a children's production of the classic fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26 and 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at the CTL, 100 W. Third St.
The non-musical performance of the timeless story written by Vera Morris is a part of the theater's SPROUTS! children productions.
A selfish prince is turned into a beast by a witch and forced to remain in that form until someone falls in love with him. After the beast sentences a widow to death, her daughter takes her place and through the power of true love, she is able to transform the heart of the beast and the two fall in love.
The Community Theatre League will present a children’s production of the classic fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26 and 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at the CTL, 100 W. Third St. For more information about the Community Theatre League or for tickets to the show, visit ctl shows.com.
More than 60 children auditioned for the production, which has a cast of 21 youngsters ranging in age from 10 to 17.
Gretchen Bower, director of the play, said casting is always a difficult thing, especially with children. Turning children away is very hard for her because she likes to give them the opportunity to get up on stage.
Bower, who used to teach elementary age students, said she enjoys having the opportunity now to work with an older group of children.
"I am a retired school teacher, so this gives me a chance to use some of my skills and get back to what was my love and my calling," Bower said. "They are always so excited and enthusiastic about doing the play. They help keep me young."
Auditions for the play were held in November and rehearsals began later that month and have been held about three times a week.
All cast members are from Lycoming County. Leading cast members include Hannah Swanson, 17, of Turbotville, playing Beauty; Brandon Hoover, 17, of South Williamsport, playing the Beast; and Jordan Mondell, 16, of South Williamsport, playing Madame Rondeau.
Other supporting cast include Beauty's sisters and their husbands, played by Ivy Waldren, Isabel; Zofina Fink, Marguerite; Trey Fox, Greedo; and Alec Oakato, Graspo.
Bower's husband, Tim, is the stage manager for the production as well as head of construction for the set. The two have been helping the CTL as a team for a number of productions.
Bower said the story is one of her favorites and is looking forward to the kids bringing the message of the play across to the audience.
"I'm most looking forward to them transporting people through an enchanted forest and an imaginary world where love overcomes greed, selfishness and arrogance," Bower said.
The SPROUTS! program started out as adults doing theater for children, but in the past few years, Bower said there has been a great need for children to become involved with theater themselves.
"When we would call for a child (part in a production), we would get 50 kids who would want to do it," she said. "We try to keep the program educational and fun - having them learn what it is to go on stage and do a full production with lighting and sound and scenery and costumes. And we really do think we are doing a service for the community and it's been an interesting experiment and successful move to the kids."
Jacquie Engel, youth programs coordinator for the CTL, hopes that productions such as these will help motivate parents to introduce their children to theater at a young age.
"Nothing inspires young children like seeing other kids their age or not much older do something extraordinary," Engel said.
Tickets for the show are $8 or four for $25.
The CTL offers many opportunities for children, including summer theater camps, all-youth musical collaborations with the Community Arts Center, SPROUTS! productions and others.
For more information about the Community Theatre League or for tickets to the show, visit ctlshows.com.