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'Beauty and the Beast' coming to Lorain

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    A little girl meets Belle and the Beast during a fundraiser for Sandstone Summer Theatre.



When it came time for the Sandstone Summer Theatre to plan this year’s 50th anniversary show Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” the local nonprofit company first started by knocking its 2018 production of “Grease” out of the park.

“For our 50th anniversary we wanted to go quite large with rented costumes and a big set,” said Lorain resident Pam Vandersommen, president of Sandstone Summer Theatre Board of Directors. “So what we did was kind of plan for it by doing ‘Grease’ last year, which, of course, is also a fan favorite.

WHAT: Sandstone Summer Theatre presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today and Friday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Lorain Palace Theater, 617 Broadway Ave., Lorain
INFO: (440) 452-1050 or lorainpalace.org

“We had a huge audience that bought a lot of tickets so we’d have enough money to do Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast.’”

This year marks the first time Sandstone Summer Theatre is tackling Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which runs today through Saturday at the Lorain Palace Theater.

The Academy Award-winning Disney movie and Tony Award-nominated Broadway production tells the classic story of Belle and the Beast. The former is a young woman in a provincial town; the latter a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress.

If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed into his former self.

“One of the big draws of this show, which has a cast of about 40 actors, is we built a pretty ginormous castle as a set,” Vandersommen said. “We don’t normally go that big, so I’m very proud of it. It’s quite beautiful.

“Also, it’s basically a family-friendly show. What I’m looking forward to is seeing the kids’ faces light up and the pure joy. We recently had a fundraiser where the actors were dressed in character, and, honestly, I teared up a couple of times because the kids were just so excited to meet them. That’s what excites me the most.”

Such excitement and fun fits right into what Sandstone Summer Theatre provides not only Lorain County audiences, but also local actors.

“There’s a lot of theater in Lorain County,” Vandersommen said. “So we’re pretty lucky in that aspect. As far as Sandstone Summer Theatre, we offer a lot of opportunities for people who are not choosing theater as their degree or career.

“We have a lot of people in different careers and kids who initially don’t know if they’re going to like it. That’s kind of the beauty of it. We’re teaching theater to people who usually end up developing a passion for it after they’re done at Sandstone.”

This summer marks the second straight year the Sandstone Summer Theatre has produced a production at Lorain Palace Theater.

“It’s a beautiful theater,” Vandersommen said. “Obviously we did very well with ‘Grease,’ so we just decided to continue the relationship. We expect to be back there. I think we found our new home.”

Contact John Benson at ndiffrence@att.net.

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