Beauty and the Beast premieres Friday

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Waterworks Players is presenting the pantomime Beauty and the Beast to celebrate the holiday season. Beloved by children and adults alike, pantomimes are as much a part of Christmas in the British Isles as singing carols, trimming the tree, and exchanging presents. And for 10 years now, these shows have become part of the holiday celebrations in Southside Virginia.

The show runs for two weekends with an evening show on Friday and Dec. 9 at 7 p.m., Saturday matinees are this Saturday and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 for everyone, children, adults … and horses (read on!).

“Pantomimes are a form of theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, involving music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy based on a well-known children’s story,” said Mary Jo Stockton, who grew up in Scotland and now will be directing her fifth production. “At home they are called pantomimes, but it’s not the same as a mime, rather it is a story with a twist.”

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In this year’s show, you will get “A tale as old as time, but a story very new as a pantomime.”

You may think you know the “tail” of a prince transformed into a beast, but this is a story with music, wonder, fun, laughter and a horse named Dobbin — a perfect and captivating family treat.

“We have a wonderful group of children in this production,” Stockton said. “I like introducing them to the magic of theatre. Not only do they learn how to work together, but you see their self-confidence soar.”

This year, Waterworks will have 14 young actors, many having been in the cast of previous shows. Andra Henke is a good example. She said being on the stage three times has taught her how much effort goes into creating a play and has learned how to get over stage fright by putting herself into a character’s role.

Samantha Tillette, in her fourth Waterworks’ production, said her parents always brought her to the holiday pantomimes. Taking dancing lessons and seeing live theatre created a desire to be on stage.

“When I heard there were roles for people my age in Les Misérables, I auditioned and got a part,” said Samantha, who added she is excited to play the Town Crier in Beauty and the Beast.

This is Thomas Hamilton’s first stage appearance. He has seen previous pantomimes and wanted to be in this play because his sister, Kailynn, had been in a previous show and enjoyed it. After several weeks of practice, he says people will like Beauty and the Beast and will find it to be much funnier than the movie.

Chloe Smith, also in her premier appearance, is very excited. She says it will be a good show with lots of silly people.

From last year’s production, Vivian Gearheart remembered how the theatre lights were blinding while on stage, making it difficult to see people sitting in the audience. After the second show, however, she felt comfortable and able to do a good job. Vivian said Beauty and the Beast is different from what most people think. “It is much funnier,” she exclaimed.

Other area children staring in the show are Penelope Dorsey, Autumn Shook, Kailynn Hamilton, Christina Pence, Jozi Bailey, Casen Smith, Mikayla Dobson, Maxine Dobson and Gavin Wright. The ensemble also includes Kolby Grimsley, Don Blaheta, Jordan Whiley, Stu Nicholson, Leigh Lunsford, Noah Blakeslee, Cole Pillow, Christy Moore, Pam Wright, John Burton and Katie Trent.

Join in the fun and see how a prince is transformed into a beast that has a duel with a good fairy and her evil counterpart. What about Belle, can she save the day? And learn how Dobbin the horse is so bright.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Waterworks website,, or calling the box office at (434) 392-3452.

A representative from the Heart of Virginia Christmas Mother program will be at every performance for anyone who would like to donate. They will take new and gently used toys, books other gift items for distribution to those in need during the holiday season.