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'Beauty and the Beast' Arrives

School ending means lazy days for most children but not for the cast of Sterling Playmakers’ “The Enchantment of Beauty and the Beast.” For the past two weeks they have been in rehearsal Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Andrea Hepfinger, a rising junior at Herndon High School playing the role of Beauty, described rehearsal as summer camp.

“Rehearsal is hard work. It is six hours each day but a lot of fun and it is coming together really well,” Andrea said.

Dan Bernier, a recent graduate of Park View High School who will attend James Madison University in the fall, plays the role of the Prince. “It was pretty fun, we do a lot of improv, and it has been coming together really well and fast. The director seems impressed with how fast we are coming along,” said Bernier.

KAREN SCHLUMP, Playmakers’ public relations manager, said that the play is special in that the cast is all children ages 8 to 18. Out of the 102 children that auditioned for the play 37 were cast. “We [the adults] are behind the stage helping out but it is completely done by these young actors,” she said.

Director Kathleen Bleutge is a firm believer in children rising up to meet high expectations.

“I cannot begin to tell you how talented these kids are. I would put this cast against an adult cast any day, they are awe inspiring as actors,” said Bleutge.

Schlump shares a passion for the stage with the young actors. She said she's involved with the Playmakers’ because she knows the stage excites the children just as it does her. For Schlump, it is the little moments that count such as when she played Maria in the “Sound of Music” and she had little girls come up to her and say, “you were my favorite.” She enjoys being able to work with children and inspire them. Schlump also said it is a great opportunity for them and opens them to new experiences such as in this play the actors learned stage combat for the fight scenes.

EACH OF THE ACTORS have different perspectives on their roles. Andrea said, “It has been amazing, one of the biggest roles I have had.”

Chris DeLisi, a rising sixth grader at Farmwell Station Middle School playing the role of the Clock, said despite the difficulty of moving around in the costume, “it was fun because you couldn’t do anything wrong with the character, so it was pretty cool.”

Bernier found that by getting into character he was able to take on a different persona “because I get to be extremely obnoxious and conceited.”

Both Bleutge and Schlump said the play is not based on the Disney story. Schlump says the play is based on the French fairy tale where the selfish Prince turns into a Beast, when the curse is lifted he realizes he can share with others and at the same time learns a lesson of love and friendship. The play also includes singing, dancing, and swordplay. Bleutge rates the play as “suitable for all ages. All ages will appreciate it, it’s a family show.”