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CHAMPAIGN — Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company's next production, "Beauty and the Beast," shows off songs, costumes and the talents of many youngsters.

Directed by Whitney Havice, the production opens tonight at Parkland College's Jean & Harold Miner Theatre.

The song tells it all in this classic "tale as old as time."

The fairy tale tells the fantasy story of a young woman named Belle who meets the Beast, a prince trapped in a monster's body. If you like singing tea cups, this is a must-see.

An Academy Award-winning Disney animation, it featured memorable songs such as "Be Our Guest."

A Broadway show followed, with more songs, and now the CUTC is putting it on — with all the songs intact.

That includes all the songs in the film, as well as pieces written for the Broadway production, which was nominated for nine Tony Awards.

Havice directs a cast of nearly 50 thespians/singers — middle school and high school students from communities throughout the area, CUTC's Melissa Kuhl notes.

Director Havice said the musical explores what it means to be human.

"My vision for our show, while rooted in the iconic and traditional fairy tale qualities and moments that we all know and love, also encourages the characters to take a closer look at themselves and the relationships that are at the heart of the story," she said.

"Also, what really makes them human under the appearance of being 'different.'"

Emmy Daniels and Jerry Strain play Belle and the Beast — in choreographed musical numbers and exotic costuming.

"Among the things that I love about this show, besides the iconic characters, songs and story that we all know and love, is working with and directing the students in the cast," Havice said.

"Their hard work, talent and energy in the rehearsal process, and on stage, are infectious, and I am extremely proud of their dedication to each other and this show."

Stage manager Angie Deptula said the technical staff has years of experience.

"The set is designed by a friend of CUTC, Bernie Wolff. He has designed many sets for our shows," she said.

"The set was built by volunteers. Some of the volunteers are parents of the kids in the cast; others are just people who love theater and want to help. Our lead on construction, Jerry Meyers, has been building sets for CUTC for many years. His own daughter was in the Kathy Murphy Student Production more than five years ago."

That's true for costumes, too. They're by Jodi Prosser-Mueller and Paula Wolken, both part of the local theater circuit for many years, she said.

If you go

What: "Beauty and the Beast"

Where: Miner Theatre at Parkland College

When: 7 p.m. today through June 16 and June 20 to 23; 2 p.m. June 16 and 23

Tickets: $10 to $14



Paul Wood is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@pvawood).