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There’s beauty in the beast

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Tony Souza as Gaston, front left, thanks the audience and announces the new season’s program of Way Way Off Broadway Theatre Company. (Christina Stock Photo)

WWOB’s premiere of Disney’s Broadway musical, “Beauty And The Beast,” took place Friday evening at the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Performing Arts Center.
A full house with generations of fans from grandparents, parents, to children of all ages, giggled and laughed loud at the antiques of Gaston (Tony Souza), when he tries to convince Belle (Summer Souza) to marry him. Tony Souza embraced the role, having obvious fun playing the annoying villain.
Thunderous applause went to Lumiere, the enchanted candlestick, who was played by Michael Sweeney. This was Sweeney’s first performance with WWOB after several lead roles performing at the Roswell Community Little Theatre.
Spenser Willden was cast as Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou. Willden owned the physically challenging role who worships the bully Gaston. Willden is an incoming junior at Goddard High School, where he is a percussionist in the band.
The musical was one of the bigger productions of WWOB and showed the talents of the cast and crew that can easily compare with a professional Broadway production. The musical stands out also thanks to costume designer Jan Smith with her crew and the amazing hair and makeup designer Tarra Morgan who turned the Beast into a fearsome creature.
The voice and performance of Bryan Hunley as the cursed prince in beast-form was first-grade. When the audience was invited on stage to meet the cast, Hunley was surrounded by fearless fans, who wanted selfies with him.
There was a medical emergency with a teenager collapsing during intermission. “We have three firefighters in the cast,” Smith said. “If you have a medical emergency, first responders are right here. Thank you for your patience.”
The audience was understanding and used the longer intermission to chat with friends and neighbors.
The public has today and next weekend to see the musical. Performances are Sundays at 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit waywayoffbroadway.com.