An ensemble cast of all ages will work together to bring the MPB Community Players’ 28th annual musical theatre production to life. Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” will be presented June 7, 8 and 9 at Catholic Social Services Family Center, Hazleton, and the cast for this year’s show was announced this week.
“Beauty and the Beast” is the stage adaptation of the classic 1991 animated movie. Two of the Players’ most experienced young actors will take on the lead roles. Playing the beauty, Belle, is Ann Marie McGrogan, while the Beast will be portrayed by Thomas Betterly. McGrogan, a junior at Hazleton Area High School, has been a staple in MPB productions for many years. She was the lead, Esther, in 2016’s “Meet Me In St. Louis,” was a featured singer in “Godspell” in 2017, and played Zaneeta in 2014’s “Music Man.” McGrogan is also a member of the Senior Jazz Company at the Performing Arts Center in Conyngham.
Betterly is a junior at Marian Catholic High School, and has also been featured in many MPB Players’ productions, including Sebastian in last year’s “Little Mermaid,” John Truitt in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and Winthrop in “Music Man.” Both McGrogan and Betterly are singers in the Most Precious Blood Folk Group. McGrogan sings the lead in the show’s opening number, “Belle,” and is a soloist in “Is This Home” and “A Change in Me,” two songs written specifically for the stage production. Betterly sings the solo “How Long Must This Go On” and the hauntingly beautiful ballad, “If I Can’t Love Her.”
Jonathan Bonomo plays the antagonist, Gaston. A Marian High School junior, Bonomo played Scuttle in last year’s “Little Mermaid,” an Apostle in Godspell, and Lon in “Meet Me In St. Louis.” Bonomo sings lead in the amusing song “Me,” and he riles the crowd in “The Mob Song.”
Taking on the roles of the enchanted castle staff are a group of young adults who have also had a great deal of experience on stage. Matt Seamon plays Lumiere, the Beast’s maitre d’, who is transformed into a candelabra by the spell cast upon the castle. Seamon is best known to local theatre-goers as Jesus in the MPB’s “Godspell” and the title characters in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “The Music Man.” Seamon sings the lead in the show stopping “Be Our Guest.” Portraying castle cook and teapot Mrs. Potts is Emily Betterly. Betterly wowed audiences as the villain, Ursula in last year’s “Little Mermaid.” She also serves as Choreographer for the production, and sings the title song. Lauren Seamon plays Cogsworth, the major domo turned mantel clock. She was Ginny in “Little Mermaid,” and sang the much loved “Day by Day” in Godspell. Sabrina Krupko, who played the title character of Ariel in “Little Mermaid” last year, takes on the role of feather duster Babette this year. And Angelina Krupko is the wardrobe, Madame de La Grande Bouche. Angelina played one of Ariel’s sisters in “Little Mermaid.” Rounding out the enchanted objects is Sarah Polashenski as Chip, the precocious teacup. Sarah played the devious Jetsam in “Little Mermaid,” and has also been featured in productions at her school, Immanuel Christian. The castle cast will lead the rousing number “Human Again,” and lend their voices to “Something There.”
Emily Babula plays Gaston’s lackey, LeFou. Emily was Flounder in “Little Mermaid,” and has been a featured singer in many other productions. She sings and dances lead in the ode to her boss, “Gaston.” And John Zions plays Belle’s father, Maurice. John has also played many roles, both for MPB and other theatre groups in the area. He joins McGrogan in the duet, “No Matter What.”
The “Beauty and the Beast” cast also features an ensemble of performers who serve as townspeople, servants, wolves, and other characters. The ensemble includes: Jim Babula, Howie Betterly, Alexander Composto, Ian Composto, Gianna Costible, Diane Fisher, Isabella Fisher, Karen Flannery, Sarah Halupa, Lucia Howey, Maria Howey, Ruth Huey, Kiera Kupsho, Kailey Nemeth, Makenna Piaskowski, Dana Reed, Courtney Tarselli, Barbara Vilushis, and Lily Youngcourt.
Four performances of “Beauty and the Beast” will be presented at CSS. On Friday, June 7, there is an evening show at 7:00 pm. There are two performances on Saturday, June 8; a matinee at 1:00 p.m., and an evening performance at 7:00. And on Sunday, June 9, there is one matinee performance starting at 3:00 pm.
Seating at the CSS Family Center is limited, so reserved seating is recommended. Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information about the show, including cast bios, search “MPB Community Players” on Facebook. Call (570) 459-5076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for ticket information.
(Information from Judiann McGrogan)