Thursday, November 10, 2016

The magic of change

         Long before the American electoral system transformed a TV reality show host into commander-in-chief, there was a legend about an arrogant prince who had been turned into a beast and was saved by a beautiful woman who taught him how to love.
         If you need a refresher course in this tale older than time, catch the production of "Beauty and the Beast" opening Nov. 18 at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.
         Just a day after the historic election, Civic welcomed some local media representatives, and a few appreciative children, into their costume shop. Staff and volunteers are working on ways to transform household servants into mere objects such as a teapot and a clock. Kathleen Johnson, a Chicago expert in foam sculpture, explained how she uses lightweight, pliable foam to turn a chorus of children into teacups. By using matching fabrics to cover the foam, the elegant coat of butler Cogsworth becomes the rigid case of a windup, pendulum timepiece. In this photo, the costume-in-the-works is modeled by actor Jason Morrison.
            The show is being directed by Civic's associate director, Allyson Paris. Alyssa Meeuwsen, a 19-year-old musical theater student at Western Michigan University, will portray the tough but loving Belle who courageously tames the Beast. Meeuwson, who joined us in the costume shop to sing one of the show's stirring songs, said she has always dreamed of playing Belle. "She was my go-to Princess." The beast will be portrayed by Matt Hartman.
             Tickets to the month-long holiday show are disappearing quickly. You can get yours at
              We know we can count on Civic's team of professional designers and energetic young performers to create unbelievable magic on stage.
               Now, if only the fairy tale can actually come true. 

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