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NEW BERLIN - "Beauty and the Beast," one of the great stories about love can endure and grow no matter how beastly we may appear, will open Friday, July 14, at the West Performing Arts Center.

"Beauty and the Beast," presented by the West Community Theater of adults and some students, shares the famous love story of a wolf-like beast living in a gloomy, fortified castle and a strong-willed, smart and pretty girl living in a sunny village.

Differences abound, said Judy Smith, managing artistic director of West PAC.

"He's mean, eats from a bowl and has Belle's father locked in a cell. She's sweet, loves to read books and lives in a cottage in the forest," Smith said.

The decision on what show to present was based partly on past experience.

After what she termed the highly successful "Wizard of Oz" last year, it became clear that family-friendly shows would be a great focus for the West Community Theater.

'Beauty' efforts

"Beauty and the Beast" fills the bill perfectly, but not without challenges. 

"It's a highly costumed show," Smith said.

With visits to two costume shops and a lot of donated costumes, that challenge has been met, she said.

Another prickly problem was the mask for the beast.

She wanted the beast to be heard but also that the mask look real, not an easy balance to achieve, Smith said. However, the mask was specially designed and Smith said she is more than pleased with the results.

Even though the theater company is only five years old, Smith said she also is pleased with the talent attracted to the show.

"We have a phenomenal cast," she said.

The story

Belle (played by Nicole Jakuniak) is forced to face the Beast (Joseph Gallo) after he imprisons her father (David Jirik).

To free her father, Belle offers herself as a prisoner where she meets enchanted characters, Cogsworth (Jordan Pollard), Lumiere (Zachary Beeksma), Mrs. Potts (Ashley Sprangers) and her son, Chip (Bryanna Madson), Babette (Hope O'Reilly) and Madame de la Grande Bouche, the wardrobe (Jamie Hallenberger).

Belle is pursued by Gaston (Ben Briselden), a narcissistic, self-centered and superficial individual who wants to marry her. His comedic sidekick LeFoe (Justin Foster) adds laughs to the situation.

Show time

More than 80 community actors, artists and musicians will be featured in the production to be presented weekends, July 14-23. (See attached schedule.)

Advance tickets can be purchased online, at the administrative office of New Berlin West Middle and High School between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at the box office starting an hour before the show.

Online ticket purchase includes reserving seats and is strongly encouraged to reduce wait time in line or late curtain times.

If you go

What: "Beauty and the Beast"

When: 7 p.m. July 14, 15, 21 and 22 and 2 p.m. July 16 and 23

Where: West Performing Arts Center, 18695 W. Cleveland Ave.

Tickets: $15 general, $12 for seniors at least 60 years old, $10 for students and $7 for children

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