Moffat County High School students are asking the community to "be our guest" this week as they present the Disney classic, "Beauty and the Beast."
In what the director calls the biggest production of her life, 45 young actors take the stage Thursday through Saturday to whisk audience members off to a place of song, magic and enchantment.
"It's amazing," said Andrew Field, a sophomore who stars as the beast. "It's 'Beauty and the Beast.' It's the best children's story there is."
The story, which Disney made into an animated movie in 1991, chronicles the life of a young woman dissatisfied with life in her small French town. She repeatedly fends off advances from a conceited man. After a mistake by her father, Belle is locked in a castle with a beast and some talking dishes.
With peculiar characters come elaborate costumes, said director Amy Pottinger. Mrs. Potts, for instance, has a large round costume that can be difficult to stand in, let alone dance in.
Field has an oversized body suit to give him the appearance of being beast-like, which he said is quite hot under the spotlight. He's had a challenge of fitting into such a large, furry costume.
"It's made for a big guy," Field said. "And I'm a small guy."
She said the budget for this production is larger than in past years, most of which went toward renting professional costumes to give the actors an authentic appearance.
"That's what kind of makes it fun -- we haven't done a show of this scale," Pottinger said. "I'd rather have them look good and spend some extra money."
Pottinger hopes the higher budget will equal bigger audiences, especially with a popular musical that attracts many generations.
"My idea for this year is to make it a community theater year -- plays the whole community will come out and see," Pottinger said.
The musical's organizers are targeting children with a Saturday matinee in which local youths can join the performance's fun by dressing up as Disney characters themselves, or any character for that matter, Pottinger said.
Evening performances are set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the high school's auditorium, 900 Finley Lane.
The matinee is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and Belle and the Beast will be on hand after the show for photos with children. The cost is $6, and organizers ask that parents call to reserve a spot. With limited time for the actors, the pictures are first-come, first-served.
Rachel Hebert, a senior playing Belle, said she is excited to have her photo taken with youths.
"I'll be in children's memories forever," she said.
Pottinger said "Beauty and the Beast" is an ideal family show.
"There are not very many opportunities for families to go to together and enjoy, and this is one of those opportunities," Pottinger said.
But an opportunity to include everyone in the family with advanced choreography, costuming and set design includes a challenge Pottinger did not take lightly.
"I feel pretty confident the kids can pull it off," she said. "The good thing is that the kids know the play, they know the music, they know the characters ... But they have their own way of doing it."
Hebert said she has been in plays since elementary school, but this one is at the top of the list of complexity.
"This is one of the hardest ones because it has such a reputation built up because of the movie and Broadway," Hebert said. "It has something to live up to because it's not one no one has ever heard of."
Still, Hebert is confident the show will be a hit.
"It's a difficult performance to pull off," she said. "But I think it's going to pull together well."
For more information on the show, or to reserve a photo taken with the characters, call Moffat County High School at 824-7036.