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Fort Kent students return to large scale musical format with ‘Beauty and the Beast’

FORT KENT, Maine — It takes a village to bring together a large-scale musical production involving dozens of student actors, and fortunately for fans of live theater, Fort Kent has some dedicated villagers.

Students ranging from fifth grade to high school seniors will perform the musical “Beauty and the Beast” for live audiences on June 2, 3 and 4, at University of Maine at Fort Kent Fox Auditorium. 

Fort Kent drama coach Doug Clapp is director of the show, which is being guided by a team that also includes assistant director Nancy Clapp, music director Samantha Rossignol, assistant theater coach Justin Taggett, dance director Suzie Paradis and producer Jamie Pelletier.

Rossignol said audiences will not be disappointed in the show.

“The amount of work and dedication the students are putting into this musical assures that the show we put on is going to be magical. The music and singers we have in this musical give that ‘broadway’ feel. It isn’t a show anyone will want to miss,” she said.

Rossignol works with the students on musical timing and rhythm, as well as singing correct melodies, she said.

“For some, it may require a bit more work depending on vocal experience,” Rossignol said. “I also help some to find confidence in their vocal abilities. Some may feel completely comfortable on stage acting but may not be as comfortable singing.”

Fort Kent junior Oliver Caron will play The Beast. Although Caron is no stranger to acting, this will be his first leading role. 

He will wear a beastly mask, which he said is kind of hot on the inside, but pretty cool in style.

Caron said Beast is a good guy for the most part.

“I think he is relatable to most people as everyone has their story and knows themselves better than anyone else and sometimes others don’t see that immediately,” Caron said. “He is a tortured soul who on the surface may seem mean, and callous, but he truly deep down wants to be a good gentleman and a caring soul.”

Caron has been working hard to prepare for his singing parts in the show.

“Part of it is on my end practicing at home as much as possible — kinda like homework in a way,” he said. 

Doug Clapp said community members have already demonstrated an interest in seeing the play.

Prior to COVID-19, Clapp and crew put on similar large-scale musicals involving elementary school students such as Annie and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Those shows marked attendance records for the Fort Kent Drama Club.

Clapp said he expects “Beauty and the Beast” will achieve similar success.

“People already when they see me in the supermarket and when they see me on the street will ask what we’re doing next and when you say “Beauty and the Beast,” people say it’s their favorite Disney movie,” Clapp said.

The shows will be performed at 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, June 2-4, on the Fox Theater stage. A matinee performance will also take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Tickets are $12 for adults, and $6 for children under 18 years old. Tickets are available from any drama club student, at the Fort Kent Community High School front office, and will also be available at the door. 

“Beauty and the Beast” has a running time of about 2.5 hours. 

FORT KENT, Maine — A dedicated team discusses potential casting choices during a break from auditions for “Beauty and the Beast” in the Fort Kent Community High School kitchen. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

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