For weeks, a group of children has been working diligently to bring a little magic to Kauai.
“I’m so excited to play the lead this year. It’s one of my first leads that I’ve been,” said Rayna Shafter, 13, who is playing the title role of Belle in Hawaii Children’s Theatre’s production of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”
This enchanting production has all of the elements of the full-length Broadway show and Disney movie, in a condensed form, said director Rebecca Hanson.
“All of the memorable songs are in there. The three everyone will remember are “Be Our Guest,” “Something There,” and “Beauty and the Beast” and the song “Belle” is in the beginning of the show,” she said.
Some of the actors have more than one part.
As part of the Summer Stars program, each of the 62 child participants are cast in either ensemble or principal roles. By opening night, the children will have been rehearsing for six weeks.
“It’s a really fun experience and everybody’s so close and it’s fun to be with the little kids and to get more experience and to help others too,” Shafter said.
Acting is an important part of Shafter’s life. It’s something she’s been doing since she was seven years old.
“It’s my passion, it’s what I love to do. It also helps me work as a person, becoming a better version of myself. When I’m reflecting as my character it helps me have some self-reflection, too, and it helps me to work hard,” she said.
Playing the part of Belle has been exciting because Belle is one of Shafter’s favorite Disney princesses.
For Caitlin Plowman, 9, of Lihue, who plays the role of Mrs. Potts, singing in harmony and memorizing all of her lines has been challenging, but she has a lot of support.
“I like to like practice it at home with my family members, too, so that they can help me improve my better acting skills,” she said.
The actress, who will be entering fourth grade at King Kaumualii Elementary School, said acting has shown her not to be afraid of what other people think and to embrace her differences.
She said she’s had fun with this production because she has had to learn accents.
“She’s (Mrs. Potts), English so I get to speak in an accent which is really cool and I get to learn how to say different words which is cool,” she said.
Acting is important for kids, said Finnley Garcia, 12, who plays a hat seller and has a solo in the opening number “Belle,” because it allows kids to be active and experience things they haven’t done before.
“I think everybody should try acting at least once because you get to learn so many different things,” he said.
Performances will be 7 p.m. July 27, and 3 p.m. July 28 and 29 at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.