A woman goes looking for her captured father, only to become detained herself. However, in the mist of doubt, she falls in love with her captor.
Such is the plot of the enchanted fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, which Swamp Donkey Musical Theatre Society is presenting as the Bragg Creek-based theatre troupe’s upcoming spring production.
Swamp Donkey Musical Theatre is inviting the public to the enchanted world of Beauty and the Beast, which will run May 5 to 7 and May 12 to 14 in Bragg Creek.
President of the board and director of the show, Trisha Gizen, said they chose to dive into this magical world because it is well known. She said they felt like Beauty and the Beast would appeal to wide-spanning audiences and also prospective local actors who wished to audition.
“It’s larger than life,” Gizen said. “It’s got a cast of really interesting characters, enchanted objects, and it’s challenging in terms of the characters and the music.”
With actors coming from all over Alberta, the theatre company has brought in cast members who are ready and eager to put on a magical show.
“We’re attracting talent from all over Rocky View and beyond,” Gizen said.
As anyone with theatre experience is well aware, preparing the show begins months before opening night. From conducting the first table reads to choreographing fight scenes, the cast and crew have spent months making sure everything is practiced to perfection.
“We start with the music and get that hammered out with the choreo and then we block scenes,” Gizen explained.
To help with the unique accents of some of the characters, and to make sure the fight scenes were choreographed properly, Swamp Donkey even brought in professionals to help the cast execute the show’s more difficult elements.
Once the music, choreography and scenes are all worked out, the fairy tale starts to take shape.
Behind the scenes, volunteers share their talents to create the elements of the production that bring life to the show.
“You have people working in the background on costumes, on sets, on props, sounds and lights and all of that gets incorporated,” Gizen said. “It is a really massive undertaking that requires many volunteer hours and people with all different talents.”
Gizen is proud of the work everyone has put into this year’s show, and said the cast and crew are excited to share their hard work with the public.
“It makes me incredibly proud,” she said. “You look back to where we started and how many hours you put in. Our blood, sweat, and tears are quite literally in that theatre and on that stage and its really remarkable.”
“We have an incredible cast that has banded together.”
Being a small black box theatre with a simple performance space can make for some difficult challenges. Gizen said this pushed the crew to be creative in how they were going to execute some of the more challenging elements of Beauty and the Beast.
“We’re putting on a really big musical production that has lots of set changes, some really big costumes when you think of Mrs. Pots or the wardrobe, and the enchanted objects,” Gizen said.
“We had to be creative to take this big musical and put it into our fairly small space, and I think we’ve done a really great job at that.”
In addition to being entertained, Gizen hopes the audience will find a connection with the story and what is happening on the stage.
“That’s why we do all the crazy things we do – so there’s a connection to the audience,” she said.
Father of the character Belle will be played by Trevor Milford. Post-pandemic, Milford believes it is important that people gather together and recognize that theatre is still an important element within society.
"I think we need to go back to actually spending time with one another, going out to the theatre on a Friday night," adding that "People are too scared sometimes and I really hope they take away that theatre still has a place."
Tickets for the upcoming musical can be purchased through the Swamp Donkey Musical Theatre website.