Members of Northern Virginia Players are sharing their enthusiasm and love for song and dance while also raising money for an 11-year-old with a brain disorder through their spring production of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”
Last weekend’s shows brought fun and cheer to packed audiences, with standing ovations every show, and the good times continue May 9 and 10 at Burke Community Church.
A portion of the ticket proceeds benefit Glitter Matters, a nonprofit that was started for Ellie Schleyer. Schleyer is an 11-year-old who has been battling an undiagnosed and rare brain disorder. Northern Virginia Players first heard of the cause when they previously performed shows at New Hope Church, where Schleyer’s father is a pastor.
“It’s just a great way to give back to the community,” said Ann Eul, a director of the show and West Springfield resident.
NORTHERN VIRGINIA PLAYERS’ performance was filled with exceptional renditions of classics such as “Be Our Guest” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Next week’s show is sure to be just as exciting, with a whole new set of cast members performing in the main roles for the second weekend.
“We double-cast because we emphasize working together,” said Kate Wittig, a director of the show. “We don’t build starlets, and we think it shows in the performances.”
Burke resident Alyssa Gallo, 18, starred as Belle in the May 2 and 3 performances. This was her first play with Northern Virginia Players, but she said it’s already become like one big family.
“I like my part because I can be myself in it. I’ve dealt with some things that she kind of feels. It was immediate connection. And I love NVP because I can be myself in front of them,” Gallo said.
Gallo is also happy that proceeds of the show are benefiting Glitter Matters, as she was a cancer patient when she was younger.
“I knew I wanted to help in any way that I could,” Gallo said.
On May 9 and 10, Victoria Conner, 17, will play the part of Belle.
Northern Virginia Players is a community group with children from age 8 to 18. Wittig and Eul, the show’s directors, say the nearly 70-member cast is a talented and exceptional group of students.
“It’s the most positive atmosphere that I’ve been able to find anywhere in any theater group in this area,” said Alden Lester, 16, who plays the part of Lefou.
The students’ love for Northern Virginia Players and their characters shines through in their performance.
“My double-cast is amazing, and my character, Madame de la Grande Bouche, is big, giant, and she likes to be known. It’s a lot of fun,” said Abby Collins, 15, of Falls Church.
Springfield resident John Stallings, 8, was a member of the ensemble.
“I loved playing the part of the villager,” Stallings said. “And I love singing and dancing.”
Jordon Post, a Fairfax Station resident and a narrator in the play, has been in seven Northern Virginia Players productions.
“It’s just a lot of fun making new friends and acting, and showing off what you can do,” Post said. “My double-cast last year became my best friend.”
ACTING AND SINGING gives the students a chance to do an activity they love and to make friends at the same time. Several of the students plan to pursue theater after graduation.
“My character Cogsworth is just so weird. It’s really out there, and it’s fun to get out there, because I’m kind of shy actually,” said Charlie Potter, 18. “My brother is actually going to play Cogsworth next week, and he wants to make the part completely different.”
Northern Virginia Players boosts a close-knit environment that relies on the work of dedicated parents and volunteers.
“We have a lot of military families that come back and see the shows,” Eul said. “The parents are amazing and supportive.”
Want to go? Showtimes are May 9 and 10 at 7:30, and May 10 at 1:30 at Burke Community Church, 9900 Old Keene Mill Road, Burke.