MOORESVILLE – Mooresville Community Children’s Theatre opened it seventh season last week with a beautiful presentation of the musical “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” at the Charles Mack Citizen Center. A standing ovation goes to everyone involved, from director Melissa Ohlman-Roberge to a superb cast and crew including two production interns, Garrett Bankston and Kate Durgin.

MCCTs production was amazing! Biff Edge’s creation of a charming, intricate set was designed with versatile ease to roll pieces around the stage to depict scene changes, effectively handled by stage manager Chloe Wright and her assistant, Jonah Staskel. Costumes by Wendi Choiniere were gorgeous! Two-dozen musical numbers directed by Amber French were enhanced by the high-kicking, lively choreography designed by Gina Duckworth.

Music for Disney’s version of the 18th Century classic French fairy tale is composed by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. The book by Linda Woolverton unravels the story of Belle, a beautiful and intelligent young village woman who rescues her father from imprisonment by the Beast by opting to remain in the mysterious castle with the grisly and fearsome monster.

Lucas DeVore, who played Sky, the young lover, in Davidson Community Players’ popular production of “Mamma Mia!” just a month ago, is the Prince-cum-Beast who tries to scare, then woo, the fearless, beautiful Belle, played by the lithe Haley Vogel, who sings and dances with enchanting grace.

Other leading characters caught under the spell of an enchantress at the castle include Mrs. Potts, effectively portrayed by Elizabeth (Libby) White, who wheels around young Chip, captured in a teacup, played by Max Whittington. Evan Little delivers a spirited portrayal of Lumiere. The comical Clogsworth, a clock, is played by Daniel Turner, the elegantly groomed, aristocratic lady Madame is performed by Taylor Loyd, and Kate Dugin portrays Babette, the lady with babies.

Jadon Cummings, a newcomer to the MCCT stage, delivers a forceful portrayal of “Beauty and the Beast’s” antagonist, Gaston, bolstered by the role of LeFou, vigorously performed by Isaac Nicolau, whose stage presence progresses each time I see him. Bravo! Jackson Chapin plays Maurice and Josh King portrays Monsieur D’Arque.

The cast of 34 area thespians from Lake Norman towns to Statesville includes a strong Teen Ensemble including Maegan Bellassai, Elie Brinson, Lily Feighery, Jillian Lauder, Makayla Malone, McKenzie McGee, Lauren McCarty, Andre Atabor, Rachel Peterkin, Da’Jhon Sapp and Jack Tyrell.

“Beauty and the Beast’s” Youth Ensemble dancers include Rachel Daily, Emma DeVore, Hannah King, Mckenzie Knowles and Nicholas Senyitko. The Kids Ensemble consists of Emerson Bishop, Abby Knowles, Adrianna Murray, Tyler Senyitko, Abby Weeks and Johanna Yurina.

But there’s more to Mooresville Children’s Theatre 2019 season opener. The annual Clayton Miller Memorial Scholarship, named after the organization’s founder, was awarded to three students this year.

The two Lake Norman High School graduates who received the award are Jordan O’Sullivan, who will enter the University of the Arts in Philadelphia to study musical theater; and Michael Chilcoat, who will major in theatre studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The third recipient is Mooresville High School graduate Rachel Peterkin, who will attend Western Carolina University to major in technical theater at the School of Stage and Screen.

Directing her ninth production for MCCT, Ohlman-Roberge openly admits she loves to create theater with youths.

“Young people are like sponges who pick things up and run with them so quickly,” she says. “I am continually drawn to this genre because in these young actors and technicians, I see the promise of tomorrow.”

“There’s a reason we chose Melissa Ohlman-Roberge to direct our shows,” MCCT president Gina Duckworth says. “We trust her with a show. She’s just a great teacher who doesn’t miss an opportunity to teach everything you need to know about the show and about the community.”

Ohlman-Roberge will direct a joint production of “Footloose” this fall, first to be staged at Community School of Davidson on Nov. 14-27 and then at the Charles Mack Citizen Center on November 21-24.

Upcoming productions at the Mooresville Community Children’s Theatre this season also include “Almost, Maine” to be performed at the Charles Mack Center Oct. 3-5, and “Disney’s Frozen Jr.” October 24-26.

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