It's a tale as old as time, but a new one for Black Dirt Theater.
The Hastings-based community theater group will be performing a musical of "Beauty and the Beast" at Hastings High School.
The musical follows the story of book-obsessed Belle as she adventures into the woods to rescue her father. In exchange for her father's freedom from imprisonment, Belle agrees to take his place in the Beast's castle. The Beast - formerly the prince - is cursed by an enchantress as punishment for his selfish ways. To break the curse, Belle and the Beast must fall in love before the last petal from the enchanted rose falls. Audience members will enjoy watching their relationship bloom while listening to whimsical songs. The musical's run time is about two and a half hours with an intermission.
"This is a hilarious show," volunteer and cast member DeDee Varner said. "It has sweet and tender moments and then funny moments."
Black Dirt Theater placed a poll on Facebook asking their fans what performance they wanted to see. "Beauty and the Beast" was the top pick and in early June, the cast began practicing.
"We have an agreement on how we want to work with each other," artistic director Robin Starch said. "It's really about creating art in a way where you get to make mistakes boldly and it's OK because you learn from your mistakes."
Around 100 people are involved in the production including the cast, tech crew and orchestra. This Disney classic musical features a multigenerational cast and crew. Half of the cast and crew are from Hastings and the other half from surrounding areas such as Cottage Grove, Rosemount, Woodbury and Wisconsin.
"We are very much about community building on community," Starch said.
Dress rehearsal and impact on the cast and crew
On July 22, the group had their dress rehearsal. Minor tweaks were made and the inbetween scenes were practiced. It was the first time they practiced with the orchestra. The cast and crew hammered out the details for their final performance - details audience members could easily overlook such as the placement of props, which order props come on stage and even the angle of the table on stage.
The whole production is community driven, from the building of the props and costumes to the designing of the backdrop to the choreography.
"I think they look like the community having fun up on stage," Starch said. "I think at a high quality artistic level. I mean our dancing is so fun and the costumes are gorgeous and the sets are beautiful."
Starch mentioned how previous cast members in other plays have worked their way up to being a director in this musical. There is always room to grow in Black Dirt Theater. This production allows the cast and crew to add this experience to their resume. In fact, the musical's dance captain is studying theater in college and has been getting some experience helping the choreographer.
"We are mentoring and teaching young artists how to do the skills for professional theatre," Starch said.
Tickets are still available
New this year is the Family Night tickets - available only on opening night, July 26. People who purchase a Family Night ticket will get into the show and receive a $5 food truck voucher. The food truck will be available from 5-6:30 p.m. Family Night tickets are $10 and any additional food can be purchased with cash. Doors for the show open at 7 p.m.
If you go...
What: "Beauty and the Beast"
When: 7-9 p.m. Saturday, July 27 and Wednesday, July 31 through Saturday, Aug. 3; and 2-4 p.m. Sundays, July 28 and Aug. 4.
Where: Hastings High School, 200 General Sieben Drive
Cost: $18 for adults, $12 for ages 17 and under.