It’s everything you love about Disney’s original animated movie; the quirky characters, the unforgettable songs, the heartwarming story of true love. But what makes KIDSTAGE’s version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. even more awe-inspiring? It’s performed by a cast of over 40 kids, ages 8-18. This show is not only an awesome opportunity to pull the minis away from their screens and into real life, but is a chance for them to discover the amazing things kids are capable of doing. Read on for the inside scoop on this latest family production.

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The Story
It’s a “tale as old as time.” A tale that not only charms our little ones today, but found its way into our hearts when we were just kiddos ourselves. An enchantress casts a spell on a heartless prince and his castle, turning him into an ugly beast. The only way to break the spell is to earn the love of another… before all the petals fall from his enchanted rose. Fast forward a few years later to Belle, a young woman from a nearby village, who finds her way to the castle and sparks the hopes of the beast and his enchanted servants as they race to win her heart before the last petal falls.

Just like the movie, you will be instantly hooked with the first song as you escape to the small provincial town. And before you know it, you will be smiling and quietly singing along to the catchy songs from your childhood days. Kids will adore the antics of the quirky characters and the fast-paced storyline will keep them on the edge of their seats instead of squirming out of them (and onto the floor, and then into the row in front of them).

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What Will Kids Learn?
Of course it wouldn’t be a Disney production without a life lesson or two. Looking past the fairy tale love story are messages that take on an even more important meaning for kids today. In a world filled with bullying on the playground and now even online, the underlying messages are ones of acceptance, kindness, and inner beauty. Belle is considered unusual in her own town for no other reason than a love of books and big dreams. The Beast, with his frightening appearance and gruff demeanor, turns out to be sweet and caring once he receives just a little bit of kindness. Kids will discover that despite what is on the outside, it’s more important to look for a person’s real beauty on the inside (the same thing you’ve already been telling them, but we all know they’re more likely to listen when it comes from a singing teapot).

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After the Show
Following each performance, select cast members return to the stage for a brief cast “talk back.” Audience members are invited to ask questions about the show, KIDSTAGE, or about the actors themselves. Kids are especially encouraged to ask anything that has piqued their curiosity, even things as simple as “why are some of you wearing glitter?”

Know Before You Go
1) Running time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, with no intermission. School-aged kiddos will love the busy scenes and silly characters, but tinier tots who aren’t fond of sitting may find the show a bit long. Come prepared or be prepared to leave early. 

2) Shows start at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. If you’ve got little ones who are in bed at that hour, plan on attending a Sunday matinée performance at 2 p.m.

3) Parking: There is free street parking around the theatre, but space is limited. Paid parking is available in the Port Gardener garage. Head a half block south of the theatre and turn left on California Ave. The garage is adjacent to Wells Fargo.

All the actors and actresses in Beauty and the Beast Jr. are members of KIDSTAGE, a theatrical program put on by Village Theatre. KIDSTAGE is designed to build life skills as well as acting abilities. If you think your little one might have a flair for the dramatic, registration for winter classes is currently open.

Second Stage Theatre
2730 Wetmore Ave.
Everett, Wa 98201

Dates: Thursdays-Sundays through February 2, 2014

Cost:  Adults, $14; Youth & Seniors, $12

–Angela Alanis

Photo Credit: Village Theatre website and Sam Freeman