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A Show That's Perfect Family Time

A Show That's Perfect Family Time(Posted: November 16, 2012)

The world of make-believe is waiting for area children on the weekend of Dec. 14, 15 and 16 when the curtain opens on "Disney's Beauty and the Beast JR" at Breedlove Auditorium on the campus of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.

Show director Shannon Stoddard of Fort Smith called the production "a wonderful opportunity for parent and child to spend some magical and meaningful time together."

"Children love to see other kids perform, and this is a popular show that has special appeal to kids," she said.

The Academy Playerz and Academy Playerz Too theatre companies will perform the show. The companies are comprised of students in grades 3 - 6 from area schools, according to Stoddard. The show is part of the ShowTime Series presented by the Academy of the Arts.

"'Beauty and the Beast JR' has been one of my all-time favorite shows forever," Stoddard said. "The kids are really putting their hearts and souls into the production and working extremely hard. We've focused a lot on character development this semester, and it's been fun watching them develop their characters from the arrogant Gaston, to the flighty Silly Girls, to the loving Belle and to the angry Beast. I'm super proud of these young children!"

The show is a live performance adaptation of the Academy Award-winning Disney animated feature "Beauty and the Beast." It includes music from the movie as well as brand new songs and locally-developed dances.

Musical director is Sheila Mann of Fort Smith. Jennifer Woodside Anderson of Fort Smith is choreographer.

"'Beauty and the Beast JR' is really going to be great show," Anderson said. "We've really pushed the kids, and they are learning and improving daily. The show is going to be phenomenal."

Stoddard said that "two wonderful things" happen when the lights go down and the curtain goes up.

"Children in the audience get to step into make-believe and see a live performance of a show that was written and produced just for them," said Stoddard. "Children on the stage get to pretend they are someone else and experience the joy of being a live performer."

Dr. Rosilee Walker Russell of Fort Smith, executive director of the Academy, said she expects the show to be a hit with the audience.

"We are always pleased to showcase the talented children in our community," she said. "This production is another way to do that."

Students in the production by towns:

Arkoma, Okla.: Ashley Turner.

Barling: Carly Austin and Heaven White.

Fort Smith: Britney Adair, Kariman Alsein, Payton Bain, Olivia Battles, Ashlyn Brown, Skye Calvillo, Faith Capocelli, Alexis Clark, Campbell Coleman, Gabriella Collins, Sophie Collins, Sydney Davis, Hailey Douglas, Michael Doss, Leah Grace Fimple, Sadie Hanesworth, Zoe Hardin, Van Harris, Clayton Hartwig, Shelby Hartwig, Krystabella Jones, Avery Laster, Laila Leon, Sarah Long, Dana Mays, Doyle McHaffie, Jessica Newman, Breanna Padilla, Hayden Parker, Maximino Perez, Kaylee Riddle, Adyn Rink, Francesca Rossi, Anelise Schwarz, Jayson Toney, Claire Watts, Remington Weiler, Carey Woodie and Ethan Wright.

Greenwood: Abby Denison, Grant Huneycutt, Jada Mack, Ramsey Pate, Zachary Rylee and Hannah Wheatley.

Lavaca: Caitlin Elliott.

Muldrow, Okla.: Gabrielle Gore.

Ozark: Olivia Battles.

Rudy: Nicole Crainshaw.

Van Buren: Samara Camyn.

The Academy provides a curriculum of activities geared to children and teens and currently offers a preschool MusikGarten program, art classes for elementary-age children, private music lessons and music theory classes, as well as instrumental, choral and theatre programs.

The show will be performed in Breedlove Auditorium at 7 p.m. Dec. 14, at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 15, and at 2 p.m. Dec. 16. Tickets are $10 each for these performances and are available online at, at the UAFS Box office in the Smith-Pendergraft Campus center or at the door. For more information, contact or call Sarah Taylor, 479-788-7253.

Article by: Frank Kelly, Public Information Specialist

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