A tale as old as time. A pandemic as old as 2019. It’s Beauty and the Beast, COVID-19 style!
After a two-year hiatus thanks to the circumstances, the Cowichan Musical Society is “thrilled and honoured” to be back and presenting Disney’s Broadway hit musical, says Irwin Killam, the society’s president and production manager.
It’s been a bit of a Beast to get Beauty to the stage, Killam admits.
“Performing arts is very essential for some people mentally and the theatres being dark for such a long time had a profound impact,” she said, adding she gets teared up thinking about the long journey with this show and is “extremely proud of the whole cast and crew” for their resilience and hard work.
“We have worked extremely hard to put on a quality musical and it is Disney so it’s even more of a challenge,” Killam noted. Beauty and the Beast is one of the highest selling and rated musicals of all time. We are confident that audiences will be delighted.”
Chock full of local talent, one standout is the versatile Grant Mellemstrand, who has starred in many shows including Oliver and Anything Goes.
Mellemstrand is not only playing the integral role of Lumiere, but he’s stepped up to direct the show as the previous director moved away.
“He is an extremely talented man and the cast is delighted to work with him,” Killam said. “He is doing an incredible job. He knows the show well and understands the complexity of each character and has brought it out in each actor.”
Also featured in the production are Jamieson Wickham as Young Prince/The Beast. He was last seen in the Cowichan Musical Society’s Mamma Mia! presentation two years ago.
Already part of 12 musicals in her career, award winning actress, dancer, and singer Alora Killam has taken on the role of Belle.
Belle’s father, Papa Maurice, is played by none other than Graham Brockley, who is not only a doctor but an accomplished award winning singer. He was also last on stage two years ago for Mamma Mia! and also played Curly in the group’s production of Oklahoma.
The all-star cast list goes on:
Arrogant Gaston is played by Cowichan school teacher, Jordan Heath. Simpleton, LeFou, is Sam Mellamstrand who is anything but simple.
“Not only has he been in musicals but has also represented Cowichan Valley in the B.C. Performing Arts Provincials for voice,” Killam said.
“Cogsworth the clock is Jim Cleough, who not only graces the stage for musicals but also plays at the Mercury Theatre,” Killam added.
Also playing roles as objects in the castle are: Christine Fagan (Madame De LA Grande Bouche), Amy Hovey (Babette the feather duster), and young Theodore Perkyns making his stage debut as Chip the Tea Cup.
And finally, also doing double duty is Georgie Weeks Heyd, who not only plays Mrs. Potts, but also took over as head costumer.
“The costumes in this show are difficult and extensive and the Cowichan Musical Society is extremely grateful to Georgie and her team of sewers including Wanda Chow, Jennifer Cleough, who helped design,” Killam noted.
“The chorus is made up of local talent from singers, dancers and actors who have been working extremely hard under the vocal direction of Connie Masson,” Killam added.
Choreography is by Andrea Wickham and Candace Ammerman while the set is designed by Gregg Perry with Cliff Braaten.
One of the first large-scale musicals to open in all of Canada, Killam hopes the community will rally “for much needed support.
“We have six shows, which is more than normal but that is because I had no idea when I booked the theatre, as to what capacity the audience would be allowed at,” Killam explained. “It is more difficult to do more shows financially as the costs are more and we really need to fill the seats but the cast are happy as it gives them more chances to perform.”
The show runs at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre Jan. 14, 15, 21 and Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 16 and Jan. 23 at 2 p.m.
New COVID restrictions announced this week will mean that shows will run at half capacity, so don’t wait to get your tickets. The matinees are already sold out!
Visit https://www.cowichanpac.ca/event/beauty-and-beast or call 250-746-2722 for tickets.