Beauty and the Beast: Louise McCullough, Katherine Wicker to present community theatre production at Murray Bridge Town Hall

Katherine Wicker and Louise McCullough want to put the community back in community theatre.

In recent years, as productions by the long-established Murray Bridge Players and Singers grew more elaborate and impressive, they felt there was a niche for lower-pressure theatre in which everyone could be included.

That is why the freelance vocal coach and the teacher behind JF Dance and Performing Arts have joined forces twice over the past year, for productions of Anything Goes and Grease; and why they will do it again this week as they present Beauty and the Beast at Murray Bridge Town Hall.

"We just wanted to put on shows together, old-fashioned community shows," Ms Wicker said.

"We're about putting anyone on stage who wants to give it a go and have fun.

"Louise and I both grew up in community theatre, that family, and wanted to recreate that home-away-from-home feeling."

For their third production, the Broadway musical based on the 1991 Disney movie appealed because of its "great" music for both singing and dancing, and the producers' ability to cast people of all ages, shapes and sizes as villagers.

The show's cast will number almost 30, aged from nine to never-you-mind, of diverse levels of ability.

Breigh Angove and Jarrod Matulick will fill the title roles of Belle and the Beast, with James Bartholomeusz as Maurice, Jake Salter as Gaston, Bailey Garwood as Lumiere, Anika Lauren as Cogsworth and Abbey Groocock as Mrs Potts.

They have been rehearsing since the end of May, despite the setback of not having received their scripts and backing tracks from the production's right holders until about a week ago.

"I'm so proud of the cast," Ms Wicker said.

"It has been really good watching everyone's confidence grow, seeing people who were shy about making any noise belting out a chorus, and seeing the harmonies come together.

"It's a really good community we've built up: everyone helping each other, everyone supporting each other.

"Each show the cast has gotten bigger, too."

Proceeds from ticket sales will be reinvested into the collaboration's next production; both Ms Wicker and Ms McCullough are donating their time.

  • Performances: 7.30pm Thursday-Saturday, 2pm Saturday-Sunday at Murray Bridge Town Hall.
  • Tickets: $25/15 on the door or at www.trybooking.com/BEMKI; special offers apply for Thursday, Friday and Sunday's shows.

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