Volunteer brings a lot of talent to the stage for 'Beauty and the Beast Jr.'

Jeff Bobo • Mar 13, 2020 at 2:00 PM

CHURCH HILL — Volunteer High School performers will be out to prove that beauty is only skin deep in three public performances this weekend of the Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”

There are community performances at the VHS auditorium on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission is $5.

Co-director Robin Fritts told the Times News Thursday that most of the cast are seasoned members of the choir, band and/or past school theater production.

“We have an extremely talented group of students doing this play,” Fritts said. We've got several seniors, and this is their last show. Some of our bigger leads are just some really talented kids. I think people will be amazed if they come out and see just how talented they are. It's going to be a great show.”

There's a cast of about 30 students involved in the production.

Belle is played by Grace Roberts, and anyone who has heard her sing in Choir — or as Mother Superior in last year’s VHS performance of “Sister Act” — knows she is an amazing singer.

“In my opinion she's probably one of the best high school kids I've ever heard sing,” Fritts said. “She's a very, very talented young lady.”

Playing opposite of Roberts as “The Beast” is William Smith, who is a freshmen, but is no rookie when it comes to musical theater.

“William has starred in a couple of plays at Surgoinsville Middle School,” Fritts said. “He was the lead in Peter Pan, and in Footloose. He's a really talented kid, and it's a pretty big deal to come in as a freshman and land the lead in the high school musical. That tells you how talented he is.”

Gaston is played by junior Aydan Polson, who aside from previous roles in school performances also has several acting credits with the Kingsport Theater Guild.

“Aydan is also just a really talented kid. He's got one of the best voice ranges that I've seen,” Fritts said. “He can go all the way from bass to really good tenor, so he's got a great range and he's also a really good actor.”

The rest of the cast includes: Brianna Wilson as The Narrator; Olivia Hill as Madame de la Grande Bouche/Enchantress; Curtis Robinette as Lefou; Jordan Grapperhaus, Leigh Nappila and Ava Beggs as the Silly Girls; John Burns as Maurice; Abbie Trent as Cogsworth; Matthew Johnson as Lumiere; Eliza Smith as Babette; Hannah Price as Mrs. Potts; Jimalyn Egonio as Chip; Nicole Carvagno as Monsieur D’Arque; the ensemble featuring Landon Fritts, Alexcia Shelton, Jenna Lawson, Amber Robinson, Adriana Galvan, Belle Fritts, Maci Hixon, Hunter Hixon, and  Gabe Burns.

Fritts added, “Almost every member of my cast with only a couple of exceptions is either involved in choir or band. One or the other, or both, so we've got a really musically talented group. You'll definitely get your $5 worth or more.”

This high school version of the play has seven big musical numbers and lasts about 70 minutes.

Throughout the day Friday there will be three performances for students.

There's a morning performance for Volunteer students, and then two afternoon performances for students from Surgoinsville Elementary, Mount Carmel Elementary, Church Hill Elementary, Church Hill intermediate, and Church Hill Middle.

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