published Friday, July 8th, 2011

Signal Mountain Playhouse tackles ‘Beauty and the Beast’

The Signal Mountain Playhouse has been hoping to stage “Beauty and the Beast” for years, said publicist Anne Rittenberry.

Finally, the group’s wish has been granted.

The Disney version of the “tale as old as time” opens tonight at the open-air theater off Rolling Way and continues for four weekends.

Rittenberry said some 200 people are involved onstage and behind the scenes for the musical, which tells the fairy-tale story of Belle, her encounter with the Beast and the power of love.

The production includes songs such as “Be Our Guest,” “Belle,” “Something There” and the title song.

The playhouse stages two productions a year.

“It’s a labor of love year after year,” Rittenberry said. “It’s basically the same corps of people who do the work. They never go off. Some people have been doing these jobs for years.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: “Beauty and the Beast.”

  • When: 8 p.m. today and Saturday, July 15-16, July 22-23 and July 29-30.

  • Where: Signal Mountain Playhouse, corner of James Boulevard and Rolling Way.

  • Admission: $15 adults, $5 children 12-under.

  • Phone: 886-5243.

  • Website: www.smph.org.

She said the “Beauty and the Beast” cast of 80 or 90 people — from on and off Signal Mountain — is not the biggest the Playhouse has ever used but is twice as many as were involved in 2010’s production of “Brigadoon.”

Rittenberry said one thing that strikes her “is the diversity of ages of people” involved in the show.

“There are very small children, people singing in little choruses and [others portraying dancing] knives and forks,” she said. “Some are never onstage.”

An orchestra of 30 people, a technical crew of eight and three makeup experts are backing the large cast.

Becky Gardner, 17, portrays Belle, while Matthew Lynn, 24, is the Beast/Prince. Supporting roles include Tim Forsythe as Gaston, Rob Inman as Cogsworth and David Wood as Maurice. Wood doubles as the choreographer.

Allan Ledford serves as the production’s director, Sandy Morris as orchestra leader and Glenn Showalter as set designer.

Rittenberry said Showalter has “been there from the beginning” of the theater in 1973 and has designed nearly every set.

The musical, she said, will be worth the wait it took to get the rights to produce it.

“It’s a special show to us,” Rittenberry said.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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