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'Beauty and the Beast' at Hale

Costuming is a first for theater crew

Ben Hale is the Beast, Dave Burton is Gaston and Amy Shreeve is Belle in Hale Center Theater's "Beauty and the Beast." The production will be dedicated to the late Syd Riggs, who was to have directed the show.
Ben Hale is the Beast, Dave Burton is Gaston and Amy Shreeve is Belle in Hale Center Theater's "Beauty and the Beast." The production will be dedicated to the late Syd Riggs, who was to have directed the show.
Mark A. Philbrick

OREM — For two years, Hale Center Theater owner Anne Swenson and costume designer MaryAnn Hill have been trying to figure out how to costume the cast for "Beauty and the Beast."

After all, it isn't every day one has to put a knife, fork and spoon on stage alongside an 8-foot champagne flute and a dancing teapot. Add to that trying to make furniture fit a live actor and still fit through a standard-size doorway.

And although Hill has costumed actors and actresses for dozens of show for the local Hale theater, she hadn't quite had the challenge that came with this production.

"This show has been stressful for me but a different kind of stress," Hill said. "The show is so familiar. How do we give people what they expect without infringing on Disney's copyright? I wanted to do our own thing, but it has to be iconic, too. People expect Belle in her blue dress and her yellow gown. People expect dancing furniture. But then, it has to be flexible, easy-to-wear and fit through our doors because, you know, we don't have a lot of space here."

Part of the answer came from a costume convention Swenson and Hill attended in Denver two years ago where a national costumer presented a workshop on working with foam.

"It was very helpful," Hill said. "The teacher sat down afterward with Anne and I and gave us lots of tips as well as list of suppliers who could get us different products to use."

As a result, the costume shop supply list looks more like a list for a do-it—yourself home improvement project than a list for a Broadway quality production. The designers have used zip ties, pool noodles, yoga mats, industrial spray adhesive, sprinkler pipe, lead weights, 400 lbs. of Plaster of Paris, rivets, grommets, plastic webbing, vacuform plastic, hanging planters, Christmas tree ornaments and crown molding made of foam.

Several of the cast members, including Mrs. Potts and Chip, the fork, knife and spoon and the armoire, will be wearing foam costumes.

Others, like the champagne flute, will be garbed in a kind of clear plastic.

"It's very effective," Hill said. "The plastic is shaped so the actress's head is in the middle topped with a headdress full of bubbles."

Hill said she's had a good deal of fun along with meeting the challenges.

"We're costuming it from head to toe, even down to wacky socks for every character. The show isn't set in a specific time period, so we can play with it a little. We tried to use brighter colors.

Warren Holtz is doing the hair and the makeup including sculpting latex masks for the Beast.

"He's wonderful," Hill said. "I think people will be amazed."

"We've been working on this for so long, " Swenson said. "We've never done anything completely like it. We're just trying to manage this elephant."

David Morgan from the Brigham Young University theatrical department is directing the show, recruited after Syd Riggs, who was scheduled to direct the play, unexpectedly passed away.

"We lost Syd just days before the auditions," Swenson said. "That was hard, but David has stepped right in and worked with the cast. We found the absolute right person."

The show, which is making its debut in Utah County at the Orem theater, will be dedicated to Riggs, she said.

Cast members include Ben Hale and Matthew Flynn Bellows as the Beast, Amy Shreeve and Breanne Folkman as Belle and Clayton Vance and Dave Burton as Gaston.

If you go . . .

What: "Beauty and the Beast"

Where: Hale Center Theater, 225 W. 400 North, Orem

When: 7:30 p.m. nightly except Sundays from Sept. 16-Nov. 26; matinees at 3:30 p.m. each Saturday except Oct. 1.

How much: $14.50-$18.50

Phone: 226-8600