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Audiences Will Love a "Tale as Old as Time!" Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR. Begins September 24

August 20, 2016

PHILADELPHIA, PA: Kids and their adult friends will love the WST for Kids’ production of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR.. Based on the Broadway production and the award-winning motion picture, this hour-long musical will be performed LIVE at Walnut Street Theatre September 24 through October 2, 2016.

In this classic musical, Belle is a young woman in a provincial town. The Beast is a prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out.

The 1991 Disney animated film version of Beauty and the Beast, which won the Academy Award for Best Music Original Song and Best Music Original Score, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, was based on author Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s fairy tale of the same name. The musical adaptation premiered on Broadway in 1994 and ran through 2007. The production was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. Following the success of the Broadway production, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR. was created, and hour-long adaptation, perfect for young audiences.

The score for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR. features music by award-winning composer Alan Menken, with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Menken’s additional work for the stage includes The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Leap of Faith, Little Shop of Horrors, Aladdin and Newsies. During his career, Ashman provided lyrics for shows including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. In addition with his work with Menken, Tim Rice worked with Elton John to create Aida and The Lion King, and with Andrew Lloyd Weber to create shows including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Author Linda Woolverton wrote the book for the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast, after writing the screenplay for the animated feature film.

Ashley Kerns returns to WST for Kids to direct. Recently for WST for Kids, Kerns has directed Shrek Jr., Alice in Wonderland Jr. and Seussical Jr. A South Philadelphia resident, she has been Assistant Director for several Walnut Mainstage productions, including Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap and Amadeus. Kerns is the Walnut’s Assistant Director of Education and, along with Director of Education Thomas Quinn, has been instrumental in reaching over 172,000 students in the tri-state area with a variety of programs established to keep arts in education. Chris Burcheri will join Kerns as Music and Vocal Director, along with Tara Tagliaferro as Choreographer for this production.

Creating Belle’s provincial town and the Beast’s castle is a creative team is led by Scenic Designer Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall. Schmitt-Hall’s most recent design for the Walnut was seen on stage during Schoolhouse Rock Live!. Joining him are Costume Designer Susan Benitez (Shrek, Jr.), Lighting Designer J. Dominic Chacon (Peter and the Starcatcher) and Ryan Gravett, making his Walnut debut as Sound Designer.

The actors playing BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR.’s lovable characters are all local to the tri-state area, and are all students of the Walnut Street Theatre School. Maggie McPherson of Downingtown, PA will play Belle and Jack Thomas Sullivan of Abington, PA will play Beast/Prince. Gaston will be played by Joseph Tully of Haddonfield, NJ, and his friend Lefou by Julian Brenman of Haverford, PA. Katherine Alberta of Wilmington, DE will play Belle’s father, Maurice. Katie Chance of Cherry Hill, NJ will play the gentle Mrs. Potts and Luke Plunkett of Wilmington, DE will play her son, Chip. Lauren Kennedy of West Deptford, NJ tackles the role of Madame De La Grand Bouche, Samantha Deutsch of the Wyndmoor, PA the role of Cogsworth, Aren Duffy of Marlton, NJ the role of Lumiere and Alexandra Wilson of Moorestown, NJ the role of Babette. The cast continues with Domenica Rose Passio (Villager with Baby/Dancing Plate) of Philadelphia, PA; Grady J. Chillemi (Baker/Wolf/Dancing Utensil) of Ambler, PA; Larissa Culbertson (Produce Seller/Castle Object/Dancing Utensil) of Wayne, PA; Sydney Lan Gilmore (Bookseller) of Yardley, PA; Jennifer Lepore (Old Beggar Woman & Entrantress/Aristocratic Villager /Dancing Plate) of Havertown, PA; Julianna Zannikos (Silly girl (2)/Dancing Plate) of Doylestown, PA; Jordan Budney (Hat Seller/Wolf/Dancing Utensil) of Cherry Hill, NJ; Emily Dunn (Silly girl (1)/Dancing Plate) of Medford, NJ; and Juliet Murray Morgan (Silly girl (3)/Dancing Plate) and Nick Williams (Fish Seller/Wolf/Monsieur D’Arque) of Moorestown, NJ.

The Walnut Street Theatre for Kids Series is celebrated for its commitment to encouraging parents (and grandparents) to read to their kids. Families can read together, and then discover a whole new level of imagination when they see the shows live onstage. The Walnut takes pride in bringing families together and beginning a creative conversation through reading and the arts.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR. is an ideal outing for all kids with weekend matinee performances September 24, October 1 and October 2, 2016. The media sponsor is Courier Post and Mix 106.1. Tickets are $14.50-$16.50 with group discounts available for groups of ten or more. For tickets and information, please call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets can also be purchased online at Ticketmaster or by visiting the Walnut’s website at