The production starts Oct. 28 in Lexington.
WHERE: Oct. 28-Nov. 13. $18-$22. Village Square Theatre. 105 Caughman Ave. villagesquaretheatre.com.
Up until recently, Jeff Sigley had never seen a single version of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Not the 1991 animated film that was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Not the 1993 stage musical that was nominated for Best Musical at the Tonys. And not the 2017 live-action film that grossed more than $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office.
But now, thanks to the long hours he’s worked as the director guiding Village Square’s upcoming production to the stage, he said the material’s becoming ingrained in him.
“I’m in my car humming the tunes to this show because we hear them over and over,” he laughed.
Though his personal experience with the Disney material was minimal, Sigley — who has been directing shows for the Lexington community theater for roughly five years — said he understood the assignment in terms of what audiences expect from the show.
“The positives would be everybody knows the story. The negative is everybody knows the story,” he said when asked about the pros and cons of working with such beloved material.
“You have to keep the integrity of the show. Every director has visions of what they see. But you can’t be too out there when it comes to a Disney show and one as popular as ‘Beauty and the Beast.’”
Attempting to meet people’s expectations for the material means effort in a variety of facets.
On the technical side, it means using strobe lights, color and fog to pull off a convincing transformation for the titular Beast, and creating a convincing version of the story’s ticking clock — the rose that slowly sheds its petals, which Sigley said will take “some magic backstage” to pull off.
With the cast, it means fostering chemistry between the pair of double-cast leads — Katie Gatch and Candice Pipkin (also the show’s choreographer) play Belle, David Burton and Jackson Edwards as the Beast — and relying on Village Square regulars to make the story’s famed assemblage of charming side characters to life, such as “great physical comedic actor” Stephen Fisher as the candlestick Lumiere.
On the music end, it means upping the ante on Village Square’s typical live orchestra, “doing a little bit of internal fundraising” to increase the number of musicians from three or four to seven.
“This is a big Disney show, big musical,” Sigley said. “We want to have an adequate orchestra.”
Along with increased expectations, mounting such a show can often mean an uptick in attendance, which the director — who has served in the past on the Village Square board as president, vice president and treasurer — said is important, particularly after two years hampered by COVID-19, including one year when the theater was basically shut down.
“Having full houses are something that we’re aiming for,” Sigley said. “It’s good for us financially because we depend on sales, donations and advertisements. We don’t get any government funding or anything like that. So when we don’t sell seats or can’t sell seats because of certain reasons, it’s going to affect our bottom line. So we’re excited that we can. And usually a children’s Disney show would do pretty well.”
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