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Beauty and the Beast at Heritage Woods

Shanda Walters thanked her lucky stars.

Shanda Walters thanked her lucky stars.

Last fall, when the drama teacher for Port Moody's Heritage Woods secondary announced the next production for her musical theatre class would be Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Walters got a call out of the blue from a former mentor.

The theatre instructor she had worked with while on practicum in Regina, Sask., told Walters she had put on the same show with her high school recently and she had costumes available. Walters asked her to email over a few photos and she liked what she saw.

Problem was Walters not only had to spend $3,000 to buy the costumes, but she also had to find a way to transport them to B.C.

This is where Walters said fate intervened. A Heritage Woods parent had just contacted Walters to offer her help on Beauty and the Beast and "I thought, 'Why not ask her? You never know," she said, shrugging.

Five minutes later, Walters got a reply back: "Done," the email read.

Two young men the parent knew were driving from the Prairies to B.C. with a covered trailer in tow "and we had the costumes in the building a week later. It was incredible."

As the audience will see, the colourful and grand costumes play a major part in the musical, which runs at Heritage Woods on Feb. 24 and 25 and March 2 and 3.

But there are other elements, too, that make the 90-minute production arguably one of the best shows in the Coquitlam school district in recent memory.

The set - recycled from Riverside secondary when then-teacher Dave Secunda directed Beauty and the Beast - is well crafted; the music from Ingrid Gay's band is also top notch; and the dance moves by first-time choreographer Clarence Tang, a Heritage Woods secondary grad, are amazing to watch.

Best of all is the acting from the musical theatre class. Amanda Spinosa (Grade 11) and James Munson (Grade 12) sparkle as they take on the lead roles of Belle and the Beast, and Fiona Maclean Villareal plays Gaston - Belle's love interest - to perfection.

Walters said she picked the all-ages show "because I think it's a great story. It's about a girl who doesn't fit in and she meets someone unrefined and teaches him manners. She's really an inspiration."

Based on the 1991 Disney movie of the same name, the musical was the eighth-longest running show on Broadway, spanning 1994 to 2007. It tells the tale of a young woman named Belle, a bookworm who is wooed by Gaston, a hunter and town hero who loves her only for her looks and not her brains.

Later, Belle tracks down her father, who is locked away in a castle in the woods, and makes a deal with the Beast to exchange her freedom for her father's. The pair become friends and, eventually, fall in love.

Beauty and the Beast runs at Heritage Woods secondary school (1300 David Ave., Port Moody) on Feb. 24 and 25 and March 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. Tickets at $12/$10 are available in advance by calling the school at 604-461-8679.

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