Beauty and the Beast: maybe the tale really is as old as time


The Beauty (Aly Loner) sees the Beast (Ryan Sherman) transformed, in a final rehearsal for CYT's musical production, which opens this week at Hononegah Performing Arts Center.

This weekend, audiences will have five chances to see the Christian Youth Theater (CYT) production of the musical Beauty and the Beast Jr at Hononegah Performing Arts Center, 307 Salem Street in Rockton. Ticket prices range from $13 to $15 in advance, but $17 at the door. Performances are Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. ($10 at the door) and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m., as well as Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m.

Hononegah PAC is the traditional venue for CYT Rockford's Broadway-style musicals. We have reviewed and reported on previous shows such as A Christmas Carol, Madagascar Jr, and Annie Jr. and many of the actors appeared in those productions as well.

Aly Loner, who plays Belle, previously starred as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and played Grace Ferrell in Annie Jr and Marty the Zebra in Madagascar Jr. The Beast is portrayed by Ryan Sherman, who appeared as the con man Rooster in Annie Jr and Melman the neurotic giraffe in Madagascar Jr. Nate Kenrick, who plays Lumiere, was previously Bob Cratchitt in A Christmas Carol and Mason the Chimp in Madagascar Jr.

Since 1980, CYT has become the largest children’s theater organization in the country with more than 38 locations in 25 different cities and enrolling 18,000 students annually in dance, voice, and musical theater classes. Classes will resume in the fall.

The show was based on the 1991 Academy Award-winning animated Disney musical film, with music by Alan Menken (Disney's The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors), lyrics by Howard Ashman (Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin) and Tim Rice (Evita, Aladdin, The Lion King), and script/book by Linda Woolverton (The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland). The show ran on Broadway for 13 years - the tenth-longest run in Broadway history.

About the story

In a quaint French town, the beautiful Belle (Aly Loner) lives with her mother Maureen (Lauren Tibbetts), an eccentric inventor. Belle loves books but not Gaston the woodman (Aidan Howard) who fails to understand why any girl wouldn't want to marry someone as wonderful as himself (one of his songs is titled "Me.") When Belle's mother doesn't return from taking her greatest invention to triumph at the fair (traveling through the dark woods, of course), Belle rushes to rescue her, only to find out that since her mother has trespassed in an enchanted castle, she is now the permanent captive of an uncompassionate beast/man (Ryan Sherman). Belle agrees to take her mom's place for the rest of her life, not that she's happy about it.

Belle soon discovers that the enchantment means the castle's household servants are gradually turning into singing, dancing household articles, much to the delight of the audience though obviously not of the servants. This being a fairy tale, we learn that if the beautiful Belle and the ugly beast can somehow fall in love before the servants are completely transformed into clocks and teapots, the curse will be broken. But what are the chances of that happening?

Beauty and the Beast is one of the few Broadway-style musicals where many of the best roles are household articles and table settings. In that category, memorable performances include those of Solomon Rossman, playing a dry, snooty head butler/clock named Cogsworth (a role previously played by Sir Ian McKellen), and his sidekick Nate Kenrick, playing a French-accented assistant butler/candelabra named Lumiere (a role previously played by Ewan McGregor) who flirts with Babette (Kelly Schemel) the maid/feather duster.

Other notable household servants/household articles include Sofia Guevara, in a role played by Angela Lansbury in the 1991 animated film, who remains surprisingly bright and cheerful considering she is now a teapot and Aleyah Bailey, who plays her daughter, Chip the teacup. Kaylee Kramer plays a lady-in-waiting and former opera star ("the toast of Europe") who is now a wardrobe. There are also ensembles of napkins, knives, forks, spoons, and other table settings.

On the human side, Aidan Howard manages to play one of the theater's most egotistical characters, Gaston the hunter, without appearing egotistical himself, despite being the subject of at least two musical numbers, "Gaston" and "Me." Gaston is supported in his self-obsession by Noah Ceniseros, playing his sidekick LeFou (his name means "The Fool" in French), and by the romantic attentions of Emily Loner, Gabby Negrete, and Jane Castillo, whose characters are collectively and rightfully called the Silly Girls. They also play Napkins.

The show calls itself "a tale as old as time," though the original fairy tale was only published in 1756. But there is something timeless about watching two people learn that ugliness often disguises the beauty within.


Aly Loner - Belle

Ryan Sherman - Beast

Aidan Howard - Gaston

Noah Ceniseros - LeFou

Nate Kenrick - Lumiere

Solomon Rossman - Cogsworth

Sofia Guevara - Mrs. Potts

Lauren Tibbetts - Maureen

Kelly Schemel - Babette

Kaylee Kramer - Wardrobe

Aleyah Bailey - Chip

Emily Loner - Silly Girl/Napkin

Gabby Negrete - Silly Girl/Napkin

Jane Castillo - Silly Girl/Napkin

Lucy Axe - Napkin

Addi Beard - Fork

MayBell Berkman - Spoon

Mellie Berkman - Aristocratic Lady/Villager

Parker Brockett - Teacup

Addison Butz - Villager

Isabelle Butz - Teacup

Aaliyah Crout - Broom

Sarah Cuevas - Spoon

Lucia DeLay - Spoon

Raemah Dempsey - Napkin/Wolf

Rayce Dempsey - Candlestick

Lydia Derry - Salt

Rebecca Dickey - Fork

Carolyn Dilbeck - Villager

Gracelyn Driscoll - Teacup

Ava Ellis - Broom

Malachi Ellis - Flowerpot

Anna Fager - Wolf/Villager

Lorelai Fishe - Wolf/Villager

Lily Frew - Fork

Dani Gentry - Villager

Isabel Guevara - Enchantress/Villager

Violet Halgren - Villager

Jasper Heckman - Villager

Ethan Helgerson - Flowerpot

Jordan Helgerson - Villager

Zoey Homola - Knife

Harper Hoskinson - Spoon

Ava Johnston - Fork

Paige Kohlmeier - Knife

Molly Matuska - Fork

Grace McLarty - Villager

Ruby Milsaps - Spoon

Scarlett Milsaps - Knife

Lydia Mulder - Fork

Cruz Negrete - Teacup

Livvy Negrete - Broom

Eve Nelsen - Broom

Noelle Nelsen - Flowerpot

Selena Nelsen - Teacup

Adelaide Noble - Knife

Gillian Nothnagel - Bookseller/Villager

Sophie Pauli - Villager

Allison Pfeil - Villager

Talia Rossman - Spoon

Josh Rundblade - Villager

Kaitlynn Rundblade - Knife

Kate Schemel - Villager

Lucy Schneiderman - Villager

Makenah Schwanebeck - Pepper

Isabelle Stauffer - Flowerpot

Isaiah Stauffer - Candlestick

Ila Steines - Teacup

Lillian Thomas - Knife

Olivia Van Hise - Napkin

Genevrie Vanderheiden - Madame D’Arque

Cooper Wellen - Candlestick

Cooper White - Candlestick

Cierra Wichman - Villager

Cole Young - Baker/Villager

Click or tap on the photo below to view a gallery of images taken during a final dress rehearsal at First Baptist Church, Machesney Park.

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