The timeless Disney classic which brought to life an enchanted castle, will opens this week at the Grove High School Performing Arts Center.

The musical, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, is the second production which combines both drama and music and showcases the acting and singing ability of Grove Public School students.  

It gets underway with three public performances: 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 2, and 2:30 p.m., Sunday, March 3.

All performances are general admission. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Tickets are available online at http://bit.ly/2019beautybeast. Tickets will be sold prior to each performance, cash or check only, at the PAC Box office. The box office opens at least one hour prior to the show.

Participants are encouraged to buy tickets online for ease and to reduce congestion at the box office. 

Led by a team of four instructors: Jeffrey Haynes, Andre Jones, Vera Yirsa and Amanda Pollan, the production combines students from the lower elementary all the way to high school.

Jeffrey Haynes, Grove High School drama teacher, said the success of last year's production of Wizard of Oz paved the way for the students to produce Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

"For many years, we have dreamed of bringing this beautiful story to the stage," Hayes said. "Everyone from the cast and crew to the parents and grandparents have worked tirelessly to bring this beautiful production to the public."

Hayes and Jones hope audience members will come, be the guest of the students, and enjoy the "timeless love story."

The main cast includes Hanna Glasgow as Belle, Kai Sarwinski as the Beast, Dalton Cash as Gaston, Luke Perkins as Lumiere, Eli Radabaugh as Cogsworth, Hayley Dozier as Mrs. Potts, Colson Jernigan as Chip, Matthew Jordan as Lefou, Olivia Thomas as Babette, Emily Rice as Madame De La Grand Bouche, Haynes as Maurice, Kenny Wright as Monsieur D'Arque and Felisha Frye as the enchantress.

Other named characters include Caleb Perkins as the young prince; Vydelya Jones, Danica Rowe and Mya Williams as the silly girls; Edgar Reyes as the egg man; Skylur Davidson as the baker; Andrew Gonzales as the barkeeper; Joseph Hopkins as the candle man; and Derek Wright as the bookseller.

Haynes said he's proud of the work his cast and crew have accomplished, to bring this musical to life.

"Our wonderful and talented actors, singers and dancers have worked incredibly hard to bring this tale of awe and wonder to the community," Haynes said. "I’m also very proud of the production team, who worked very hard to create sets, special effects, costumes and props, that make the 'magic' of the theatre come to life."

Behind the scenes

Haynes said Glasgow, who served last year as Dorothy in the inaugural  production is a consummate professional. 

"Belle is a very different character from Dorothy," Haynes said. "In Dorothy's case, she's kind of a damsel in distress.

"In Beauty and the Beast, Belle doesn't sit around and wait for a hero. She does her own thing."

Haynes said Belle, as a character, was at times a bit of a stretch for Glasgow.

"Belle is one of the first feminist characters in a Disney production," Haynes said. "She's a strong woman, free thinking and doesn't need anyone to rescue her. Belle does it herself."

Hayes said Sarwinski is technically reprising his role as the Beast. He read the role when Haynes presented it to his non-competitive speech class two years ago.

"I didn't know then that we would be doing the play," Haynes said. "When we read it two years ago he did a phenomenal job."

Last year, Sarwinski was a stage hand for Wizard of Oz. Haynes said he fell in love with the process and decided to try out for the role of Beast.

It also meant the Grove senior stepped away from wrestling in order to pursue the role. 

"It's a bold step on its own," Haynes said. "It's not an easy thing for an athlete to step away from something they've done their entire life to try something different. It's tough.

"Kai is very motivated, driven and happy to be where he is."

Cash was another member of Haynes' non-competitive speech class. During that class, Haynes said Cash took part in a skit.

"He knocked it out of the park," Haynes said. "I thought 'wait a minute, hold on there's more to this guy than an athlete'.

"I encouraged him to try out, to jump out of his comfort zone. He jumped on the role. It didn't take much to convince him."

Luke Perkins and Eli Radabaugh, the duo who brought to life the roles of the scarecrow and tin man in the Wizard of Oz, are back. This time the pair play Lumiere and Cogsworth, respectively.

Haynes said the pair play off of each other well.

"Luke has charisma and he's also extremely talented," Haynes said. He's always outgoing and very energetic.

"Eli is Cogsworth. He's very much more analytical than Lumiere. The two are natural counterpoints to each other."

As Mrs. Potts, Haynes said Dozier brings her entire talent pool - from singing, dancing to acting - to the role. 

"She one of my triple threats," Haynes said, adding Dozier brought home an All State honor from the one-act play production and is preparing to venture to Los Angeles to study her craft at the American Musical & Dramatic Academy.

Jernigan, a fourth grader at Grove's Upper Elementary, portrays Chip, Mrs. Potts' son.

"Colson is very energetic," Haynes said. "He made it very easy to choose him for the role. 

"He embodies the character very, very well. He is Chip."

Haynes said Jordan is a "little ball of energy" as he brings Lefou to the stage.

"He's always willing to give something a try," Haynes said. "Sometimes I have to tell him to back it off a little bit. He brings a lot of energy to the role."

Haynes said he's watched Thomas grow since she was a toddler. He said she, along with Dozier and Glasgow, comprise the senior girls trio who bring everything to their roles.

"It's been amazing to watch her grow into being not just a good actress, but a great one," Haynes said. "She's a triple threat. She sings, dances and gives her all to the role. She jumps right into it."

Initially, Rice was an understudy for the role of Madame De La Grand Bouche, the enchanted wardrobe. 

"She stuck it out, and never let it discourage her," Haynes said. "She ended up being promoted to the lead for the role. 

"Emily is always positive, always where she's supposed to be. She's very reliable."

Wright made his cameo appearance last year as an enchanted tree in the Wizard of Oz.

Haynes said Wright's physicality lets him sink into roles like that and as Monsieur D'Arque, the man who comes from the asylum who comes to "pick up" Maurice. 

"I asked him to audition for the role and he didn't disappoint us," Haynes said. "In general he doesn't do musicals, or at least sing in musicals. This year he has lines and sings and he does a great job of it. It's a role that pushed him out of his comfort zone."

Frye is another actress who, Haynes said, pushed herself to try something different.

This year, as well as last year, Frye oversaw the makeup for the production - a behind-the-scenes role.

Hayes said Frye was a member of his competitive speech class. He encouraged her to try out for the the role of enchantress.

"I wanted her to try and get out on the stage," Haynes said. "I thought this would be a good way to break the ice with her. There's no dialogue and she doesn't sing or dance, yet it's one of the most important roles in the entire show."

Special thanks   

Haynes said he is grateful for Jeanne Smith and members of the school's pre-engineering program. Led by Graham Dills, with funding from Radio Shack in Grove, the students created the enchanted rose for the production.

Haynes said the Grove community also deserves thanks for helping this production move from the pages of the script to the stage.

"If it wasn't for GEFFE and just the generosity of the community for the students, the production, the school and myself, this wouldn't have happened," Haynes said. "The good will [the community] gives out makes the process happen. It makes it worth while to just know they have your back."

Haynes said a production of this size involves a lot of funding.

"You can't do a production of this show without a lot of support from the community," he said. "GEFFE [Grove Education Foundation for Excellence] gave grants which paid for the royalties for the productions - which helped us get started right off the bat. 

"They also funded a grant to provide all of the equipment for the new stagecraft class. It was all of the tools we needed to build the sets."

Ultimately, Haynes said he could not have brought the production to Grove without the help of Jones, Yirsa and Pollan.

He credits the teamwork and the camaraderie, shown by both the students and his fellow directors, for making the production a success.

"This is a show that is enjoyable for adults and children," Haynes said. "This timeless story of love and friendship inspires and delights the child within all of us.

"I'm thankful for those who came together for this production. I couldn’t have done it without them."

Meet the Ensemble

Other members of the cast include the ensemble members - those who portray villagers, enchanted objects and even wolves.

They include: Lily Beckemeier, Joli Beckemeier, Ana Benson, Abigail Byers, Elora Carder, Myah Cearley, Zoey Daly, Alissah Furniss, London Gentry, Josie Glasgow, Jade Goins, Andrew Gonzales, Ashton Hart, Joseph Hart, Paige Housel, Tessa Holt, Allison Kraft, Kaitlyn Kraft, Emily Lair, Abby Lee, Brekken Manning, Kennedy Matthews, Danielle Norris, Edgar Reyes, Jordan Roberts, Zoee Rolland, Lilly Shobe, Jaece Spicer, Ally Swafford, Aries Warner and Paisley Yarbrough.

Understudies for the production include: Mya Williams as Belle, Eli Radabaugh as Lumiere, Skylur Davidson as Cogsworth, Zoee Rolland as Mrs. Potts, Jaece Spicer as LeFou, Danica Rowe as Babette and Tessa Holt and Myah Cearley as Silly Girls.

Danielle Norris returns for the second year as the director of choreography, while Mistaya Spencer Clapp and Travis Bacon work as the stage managers. Spicer is also the student director.