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‘Disney on Stage’: Scores support opening for county-wide musical

Photo by Jeylin White                      
This is opening scene, “The Village,” in the district’s county-wide musical adaptation of, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Students encompassing all grade levels played roles in the musical. Friday was opening night, which performed at the district’s Performing Arts Center.

Photo by Jeylin White This is opening scene, “The Village,” in the district’s county-wide musical adaptation of, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Students encompassing all grade levels played roles in the musical. Friday was opening night, which performed at the district’s Performing Arts Center.

The stage at the Performing Arts Center, a.k.a. the “PAC,” was alive, on Friday night, with students from around the county portraying characters from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

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Photo by Jeylin White Clayton County Public school students, encompassing all grade levels, auditioned to participate in the school system county-wide production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Friday was opening night at the district’s Performing Arts Center.

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Photo by Jeylin White Clayton County Public School student Kyla Stewart plays Belle, in the county’s musical production Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

The students, encompassing all grade levels, had auditioned for the 16th annual All-County Honor Musical, and Friday was the opening night. Scores of parents and community members packed the PAC, to show their support for county’s performing arts program and students.

“Beauty and the Beast” is a 1991 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. The film centers around a prince who is transformed into a beast and a young woman named Belle, whom he imprisons in his castle. To become a prince again, the beast must love Belle and win her love in return, or he will remain a beast forever.

Ressie Hardin, came out to show her support for her daughter, Rex Mill Middle School seventh-grader, Antonia, 12, who played one of the villagers in the musical. Hardin said she also wanted to help support the school system’s arts program.

“I think it’s very important that we keep arts alive in our schools,” said Hardin. “I’m big on all genres of art and I believe that kids who participate in arts programs [it] helps with their brain function, and they’re able to perform better in school.”

Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley recently had proposed in his budget-reduction plan to eliminate the arts and athletics programs, to save the district $900,000. However, after board members voiced their discontent in a meeting this week, they voted to keep the arts and athletic programs, keeping the arts program fully funded.

Hardin said she was happy about that because acting and performing is something her daughter has always dreamed of doing.

“She has been acting since she was a little girl,” she said. “This is the first time she has actually performed in a play in the school system.” She added that her daughter is also a part of the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, a performing arts company.

Darlene Guida, house manger at the PAC center, said approximately 300 attended opening night on Friday, which is a minuscule number, compared to the 1,800-person capacity.

“Usually, opening night is not a big night for us,” said Guida. “But Sunday is usually the biggest night because it’s the earliest show.”

The production will continue Saturday, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, at 2:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $5 and tickets at the door are $7.