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A tale as old as time: Michaela Kelley and Michael Eadie star as Belle and the Beast.
BY JESSE SCOTT
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
There's no need to go to Orlando or Anaheim to get a taste of Disney this winter.
One of Disney's classics is hitting the stage right here in the 'Burg.
The classic "Beauty and the Beast," performed by Christian Youth Theater--Fredericksburg, will reside at Spotsylvania High School over the next two weekends.
"'Beauty and the Beast' is Disney at its finest," said director Marilyn Scott of Spotsylvania, a 30-year veteran of the theater world. "There is great music, great characters, wonderful big dance numbers. We wanted to bring everything people love about the film to real life. What most people think in terms of 'Beauty and the Beast,' we stay very true to."
CYT's interpretation of the culturally timeless tale of Belle and the Beast features 90 cast members. The cast ranges in age from 8 to 18 years old and features a number of CYT veterans.
"This is the 10th CYT production that I've been in," said Michaela Kelley, a home-schooled senior who plays Belle. "I was so excited when I saw the cast list. Belle was my favorite princess growing up, and I love getting into character."
Kelley is among a growing group of local youths who call CYT their theatrical home. The nonprofit organization provides afterschool arts and theatrical training for students through age 18. Since 2008, the organization has provided artistic training for hundreds of youth across the Fredericksburg area and has produced a number of students who have pursued the arts in college and beyond.
And just because the organization has "youth" in its title doesn't mean that its current students aren't professional or top notch.
"It's amazing to see what these 90 kids who spent 13 weeks together were able to produce," said Allison Mayberry, public relations coordinator for CYT. "The bond they've built is just amazing. The love they have for each other and for God is portrayed beautifully onstage."
If you adore Disney's animated film, you're going to love what CYT has put together. In addition to beautiful costumes, professional lighting and a live orchestra, the show features the choreography talents of Melissa Cook, a former employee of Disney in California.
Cook's distinctive touch, combined with months of dedicated rehearsals by the show's cast, makes for quite the unique experience.
"Because this is more of a Broadway version, we are able to add more songs and expand on the characters," said Kelley. "It adds an extra layer to the film that everyone loves."
For "Beauty and the Beast," CYT has also partnered with e3kids International for a fun and impactful initiative. e3kids International is a global nonprofit organization that provides children in developing countries with the resources and tools needed to attain a proper education.
All "Beauty and the Beast" attendees who bring a new or gently used storybook to donate at the show will receive an autographed photo of Belle and the Beast.
"We thought, as a group, that Belle is always carrying around a book in 'Beauty and the Beast,'" said Mayberry. "We have some people in this world that have never even seen a book before. What better way to give back and show the global community that we care?"
Jesse Scott is a freelance writer and Fredericksburg native. Email him at