Cast of enchanted characters performing Beauty and the Beast

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 August 2023 at 8:44 am

Summer theater camp at Lake Plains Players ready for Disney classic

Photos by Tom Rivers

MIDDLEPORT – Belle, portrayed by Elaina Huntington of Medina, sings “Belle” in an early scene from Beauty and the Beast performed by the Lake Plains Players Summer Youth Theatre.

Belle is on her way to the bookstore in the town square.

There are 60 youths in the cast and another 15 in the stage crew for the production. Shows are 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Roy-Hart High School Auditorium at 54 State St., Middleport. Tickets are $10 for students and senior citizens, and $12 for adults. Click here for more information.

Huntington, 17, typically plays the roles of villains in theater. She was Ursula, a sea witch/sorceress in Little Mermaid for Medina in March. She was the evil Stepmother in Cinderella in the Lyndonville-Medina show in the spring 2022.

Huntington said she appreciates the opportunity to be on stage with the summer theatre program through Lake Plains. The camp is five weeks, a compressed schedule to put on a show with cast members from second grade right up to seniors in high school.

She said Beauty and the Beast sends a message, “to not judge a book by its cover.” Belle helps the Beast, while scary and gruff at first, to reconnect with his kinder, human side.

The beast is portrayed by Jonathan Clarcq, 17, of Newfane. Here he confronts Belle’s father Maurice, played by Zack Baron of Albion. Maurice is lost in the woods and seeks refuge on a cold night at the Beast’s lavish home. Maurice is an eccentric inventor.

Clarcq has been in six of the eight Lake Plains summer musicals.

“It’s a great way to get into theater,” Clarcq said about the summer program. “The atmosphere is very approachable. It’s very welcoming.”

Clarcq typically plays nice guys on stage. He was the prince in last summer’s Frozen. He said he has enjoyed being a character from the other spectrum.

“The Beast is out of my type-cast,” he said. “Being a mean and scary brute has been fun for me. It’s not a personality I usually get to show in my type-casting.”

Clarcq recommends the summer program at Lakes Plains Players.

“It’s a great way to form long-lasting friendships,” he said. “Everyone is super nice. I like being on stage where I can get lost in a character.”

These characters sing and dance to “Be Our Guest” while welcoming Belle to have dinner with the Beast.

Lake Plains charges the students about $80 for the five-week program. Some other youth theater camps cost about $500. Gabrielle Montgomery, the Lake Plains president, said the local group wants to keep the program affordable and accessible to the community.

The cast list quickly fills up once registration opens. Lake Plains would like to have even more children involved i the future so no one is turned away, she said.

The show is co-directed by Jen Trupo and Heather Rutherford. There are four assistant directors who were all in the summer theater program and are now college students or early in their careers as a teacher. Evan Steier, Annalise Steier, Qasim Huzair and Madison Pratt all have helped with the show as assistant directors.

“They have been invaluable,” Trupo said before Tuesday’s rehearsal.

Amir Huzair of Lyndonville plays the role of Gaston, a male-chauvinist who is determined to marry Belle, the most beautiful woman in the village.

Ava Blount is Lefou, Gaston’s loyal sidekick who aids Gaston in his plot to marry Belle. Lefou and the cast in this scene sing their praises to Gaston.

These three silly girls – Makenzie McGrath, Madelyn Elliott and Hannah Marker – are desperate to get the attention of Gaston.

McGrath of Medina is one of two cast members who has been in all eight of the Lake Plains summer musicals. Ella Trupo of Albion is the other.

Gwynivere Fuller plays the role of Lumière, a maître d’ turned into a charismatic candelabra. Lumière is one of the servants at the beast’s castle.

These enchanted characters include Gwynivere Fuller as Lumiere, Sarah Corser as Mrs. Potts and Abigail Pratt as Cogsworth. They want Belle to fall in love with the Beast to break a spell so they can be human again.

Rayna Balaban is Chip, a teacup and Mrs. Potts’ darling little boy.