Market House Theatre invites the community to be its guests for "Beauty and The Beast, Jr.," which begins its run tonight at the local playhouse.

The musical production runs closer to 90 minutes to better cater to younger children and parents while still telling the classic story that families know and love.

"It's a big spectacle show," said Michael Cochran, MHT's executive director. "We chose it because it's a classic piece of literature, it's great for the holiday season and it's a chance to feature some of our great younger performers in bigger roles."

Tonight's premiere begins at 7 p.m. Other dates and times can be found at www.markethousetheatre.org, where advance tickets can also be purchased.

The musical's run will end Dec. 16. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children.

The cast, led by Market House Theatre newcomers Karly Jones as Belle and Gabriel Byers as the Beast, is mostly made up of high school students from around the region.

"Gabriel and Karly really have incredible voices," Cochran said. "Gabriel does an incredible job with the Beast, really bringing him to life and giving that sense of the torment of this prince who's stuck in this Beast body, and Karly's voice is just beautiful."

The production will feature a mix of other Market House veterans and newcomers.

The magical candlestick and clock duo of Lumiere and Cogsworth are played by Bryan Pont and Jensen Knudsen. The bombastic Gaston will be played by Davin Belt, and his loyal sidekick LeFou by Liam Black.

Cochran also spoke glowingly of the crew's efforts to bring the magic of the castle to life.

"Angela Hoerner, the production's costume designer, has been trying to adapt this to our small stage. The costume shop has been working nonstop for over a month," he said. "The spectacle is really wonderful to see."

The show's direction will be handled by April Cochran, with Mia Vasquez as her assistant director. Ashlee Soldo is handling choreography in concert with Dale Julian, the show's music director.

Making big shows small is where the local theatre really makes its mark in Cochran's opinion.

"That's one thing that we do extremely well at Market House: We take these big spectacle shows and boil them down into a story about people. So the spectacle is there but you're right up close and feel like you're a part of what's going on."

The show is the second in the theatre's family series of shows, which began with "Ramona Quimby" in October. The next entry in the series will be "Junie B. Jones: The Musical Jr." this coming March.

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