Celebrating its 20th year, Calliope! brought in new directors to round out this summer’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Junior.
Calliope! Director Jeri Lines hired Andrea Mossman to direct the production and André Wilkins to direct the music. Lines is the producer and choreographer.
Allen Lane, producer, dialect coach and set builder, said, “This is our first time collaborating with Mossman and Wilkins. The addition of these two gives (the show) a depth we’ve never had before.”
Lane said they are using karaoke music this year, which gives the voices a better chance to be heard and more opportunities for harmonies compared to Calliope! productions in years past.
“It will be a deeper show because of the expertise of Andrea and André. We’ve been doing this for 20 years. We thought it was time we tried something new,” Lane said with a smile.
Lane said there are many new cast members to Calliope! About a third of the 30-member cast is new to the stage. The script is “Disney Junior,” but Lane said they “punched up the lines a bit to make the drama more intense.”
As the music director at Salida High School, Wilkins doesn’t regularly have the opportunity to teach musical theater, which is one of his passions, and accepting the job allowed him to continue teaching music throughout the summer.
“The diversity of experience leaves a lot of loose ends to button up ‒ that said, from the first-timer to the seasoned actor, I’m really impressed with how far they’ve come. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product,” Wilkins said.
Assistant Director Kyria Stange has been involved with Calliope! for 10 years. This is her second time working as the assistant director. Stange suggested doing Beauty and the Beast this summer.
“This is going to be one of the best shows that Calliope! has done. We’ve got a great cast – I’m so proud of them.”
The beast is played by Matthew Jacoby. Jacoby said he largely ignored the animated Beauty and the Beast, but when he saw the 2017 film, he “was blown away.”
Jacoby puts on a gruff voice for the part, and his facial expressions are spot-on. Seeing him perform in full costume will be a treat.
Matthew’s twin brother, Michael, plays Gaston. Matthew said he’s looking forward to performing their fight scene together. Michael plays a convincing Gaston, certainly charming and confident.
Preston Martin plays Lefou. His timing and stage presence are alluring. He is a good match for Gaston. Jasper Lau plays a loving, cheerful Mrs. Potts. Zach Stange depicts Cogsworth with his rigidness for rules and awkward walking. Jon Rodriguez plays Lumiere with a great dialect. The pair play off each other quite well.
Also, little George Mossman might be the cutest napkin ever.
Andrea said, “I love watching it go from the book to the stage.” She’s also been enjoying watching the witty relationship between Lumiere and Cogsworth.
Bonnie Poser is doing costumes, (which will be quite a feat), and big George Mossman is the stage director.
Wilkins added, “My favorite part is the group numbers. Nothing beats a chorus line!”
Catch the performance at the Salida High School at 7 p.m. July 21 and 3 p.m. July 22. Tickets are $15 for adults. Students younger than 18 are $3. Pre-sale tickets are available (and suggested) at Salida Chamber of Commerce and Sutty’s Downtown Record and Arts.