Amanda Paige performed with the national Broadway tour of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” in the ensemble for two years.
“It was such an amazing experience for me, and I had such a wonderful time,” Paige said. “That was such a special moment in my life.”
Paige has come full circle with the hit musical now that she’s the choreographer of Spotlight Youth Theatre’s production, which opened Friday. She conceived all of the major dance numbers for the show, including the signature “Be Our Guest,” which features most of the cast members in intricate costumes.
“I’m really proud of these kids because they’ve gone above and beyond to really make this show come alive for the stage,” Paige said.
Every time she’s watched the cast perform a musical number, Paige can’t help but tear up. During the rehearsal process, she told them stories about her experiences with the tour.
For this particular production, Paige took all of those memories and tried to create high-energy dances the kids could handle.
And she’s pleased with the results.
Kenny Grossman, artistic director of Spotlight and director of “Beauty and the Beast,” said there were a few challenges to mount the musical that usually features elaborate sets and costumes. They had to modify and reconfigure the set for the troupe’s small venue at 43rd and Peoria avenues.
Grossman chose to build a storybook, which folds out and comes to life.
“This (set) works for us, and really the costumes are what actually make this show, because you can’t perform this show without them,” Grossman said.
Katie Engstrom, 18, of Goodyear, who portrays heroine Belle, said the musical has been a crowd pleaser for years, and most people are familiar with the animated film.
“People have loved this story for years, and Belle is not your typical Disney princess,” Engstrom said. “Not only is she beautiful but has brains and book sense.”
In 1994, “Beauty and the Beast” opened on Broadway to rave reviews and remained there for almost 13 years, becoming the sixth longest-running show. The musical was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Engstrom said she’s proud of her experience with Spotlight’s production and can’t wait for audiences to experience the story live on stage.
Just watching the cast perform during rehearsals has been emotional for Paige.
“Being a part of this show has brought my journey with ‘Beauty and the Beast’ right back around again, and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to be here,” Engstrom said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
WHEN: Through Feb. 13.
WHERE: Spotlight Youth Theatre, 10620 N. 43rd Ave., Glendale.
TICKETS: $16 general admission; $13.50 for students, military or groups of eight or more.
INFO: Call the box office at 623-242-2611 or visit www.spotlightyouththeatre.org.