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Carroll County students' stage talents to bloom in spring productions

There are many reasons why the Disney musical, "Beauty and the Beast," is a beast to present.

The story of a prince turned beast and the girl who stumbles into his castle has a large cast with many lead characters; it has large ensemble numbers; and it has huge set.

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Add to the mix a winter that closed school doors — effectively canceling many rehearsals — and it's understandable why the cast and crew of Francis Scott Key's production of "Beauty and the Beast" were working full throttle last week in preparation for the musical's opening on Friday, March 21.

"Every year, we always pull it out of the bag. It will be more miraculously this year," said Devin Holsey, 17, who has been active in the Drama Club since he was a freshman. "We know we're going to pull it off. ... It will be interesting to see."

As the character Lumiere, a candelabra come to life, Holsey had his own challenges in the role.

"Playing a character everyone knows and trying to put your own spin on it is the most difficult thing to do," said the senior. "I've done every show here. This has been my life the last four years."

This is the second show directed by Matt Lamb, vocal teacher at the school in Union Bridge. His first production was "Little Shop of Horrors" last spring.

"It is really big," Lamb said, of the show. "This show is giving something back to the community. It is more family-friendly, a little more popular [than 'Little Shop of Horrors']."

The character Belle has always been Audrey Bennett's favorite Disney princess, so she was pleased to have been chosen for the role.

"[Belle] is so strong. She doesn't need to be rescued," said the 16-year-old. "She does the rescuing."

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Liam Abate, 16, was a little surprised to get the role of the Beast, as he was hoping for the role of Gaston, a suitor of Belle.

"It's honestly surprising I got the role, but at callbacks there it was," the junior said, who has to roar and jump around the set in the beginning before Belle brings out his princely attributes.

A graduate of Key and now a math teacher at the school, Alyson Marks has been helping Lamb with the production.

"It's been very challenging with all of the snow days, but the kids are doing a great job keeping all the energy up," said Marks, who was happy to be part of her alma mater's production.

"It's very fun being back," Marks said. "The first rehearsal I came to, I got to stand in for Belle. I was Cinderella my senior year. I got to be another princess."

Annie Douglas, 16, is also enjoying her role of Mrs. Potts, a teapot.

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"Being Mrs. Potts is so much fun. She is very out there and very British," said the junior. "I love talking in the British accent."

Douglas admitted that rehearsals have been tough, but worthwhile.

"It is finally starting to come together," she said. "It's fun being a larger cast. Everyone is being a team player."

"Beauty and the Beast" will be performed on March 21, 22, 28 and 29, at 7 p.m., with a matinee on March 22 at 1 p.m., at Francis Scott Key High School, 3825 Bark Hill Road, Union Bridge. Tickets are $3, children under 5; $6 for students; $8 for adults.

410-751-3320.

Century presents a double dose of Disney favorites

Century High School tackles two different shows this spring with productions of Disney's "Little Mermaid Jr." and "Aladdin Jr."

While the cast of 40 will perform in both shows, the scenery is completely different for each show, according to Lucas Hewitt, the director.

"From under the sea to desert, two completely different sets," Hewitt said. "It's extra challenging."

The weather, too, has been challenging as snow days in preparation for bad weather canceled after-school activities.

"The good news is everyone is very familiar with the characters and the songs," Hewitt said. "It has helped in the learning."

Disney's "The Little Mermaid Jr.," and "Aladdin Jr.," will be performed on March 20, 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. with matinees on the 22 and 29 at 2 p.m., at Century High School, 355 Ronsdale Road, Sykesville. Tickets are $10. For a backstage experience at the 2 p.m. shows on March 22 and 29, an extra $5 will be charged.

410-386-4400.

Manchester Valley presents 'The Wedding Singer'

Manchester Valley High School's production of "The Wedding Singer" gave the cast a dose of 1980s music and fashion.

"In terms of music, it definitely has that '80s rock going on," said Bobbi Vinson, the show's director. "When the kids heard the music when we were voting (last year), they said, 'Yes, this is what we want to do.' "

The cast has been rehearsing since January, and the romantic comedy is coming together, according to Vinson.

"It is a great group, particularly the principals. They are just phenomenal," Vinson said. "They are the whole package. They sing and act with excellence."

Arcadia Ewell, who plays the female lead, Julia, was especially excited about one costume.

"I get to wear a very elaborate '80s wedding dress," she said. "I'm pretty excited to wear that."

"The Wedding Singer" will be performed on March 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. at the school, 3300 Maple Grove Road, Manchester.

410-386-1673.

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