Be their guest: Broadway company brings ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to Wilmington

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Broadway's 'Beauty and the Beast' is on tour and coming to downtown Wilmington Monday. Courtesy photos.
Broadway’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is on tour and coming to downtown Wilmington Monday. Courtesy photos.

For Stephanie Gray, being on stage as a cast member of Broadway’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a dream come true.

Not only is it a magical Disney tale come to life, the 24-year-old gets to portray the wise, warm and well-grounded Mrs. Potts.

And what’s more, she gets to bring the Big Apple theater experience to towns across America.

Gray and her fellow actors will do that just in Wilmington on Monday, when “Beauty and the Beast” premieres at Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Center. A second performance is set for Tuesday, with both shows beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Rehearsals for the touring Broadway show began in late August and, after a few weeks, cast and crew hit the road. As an up-and-comer, Gray has taken a similar tour with educational musicals but never to this degree and certainly not for as long. “Beauty and the Beast” will be on tour through July 2016.

“This is much more of a big production,” she noted. “This is my first really big gig.”

It’s exciting to be a Broadway entertainer, for sure. But taking the play on tour is especially significant for Gray.

Actress Stephanie Gray said playing Mrs. Potts is a dream come true.
Actress Stephanie Gray said playing Mrs. Potts is a dream come true.

“It’s amazing. It’s the reason why I think a lot of us get into theater…I couldn’t be more excited to bring such a high-level show to towns where they don’t necessarily have access to New York or L.A.,” she said. “Especially with ‘Beauty and the Beast’…It’s so much better than going to see a movie. There’s nothing like it. You’re within 100 feet of absolutely beautiful Disney magic and afterwards you can meet the people who just performed for you.”

The message of the show—that a person’s inner beauty is much more important than the outer—resonates with Gray.

And so does her character—although it’s not without its demands.

“She’s really lovely. But she’s slowly turning into a teapot. I’m an actual teapot onstage. My arm is a spout and I have a big round dress,” Gray said.

Despite her appearance, Gray added, Mrs. Potts has to remain a calming, motherly influence to a zany bunch of household items come to life, including Lumiere and the enchanted mirror.

“Mrs. Potts kind of has to be very grounded. It’s certainly a challenge but wonderful it’s an opportunity to do that,” she said. “And to follow in footsteps of Angela Lansbury who is an angel, is an absolute dream.”

Tickets to “Beauty and the Beast” at Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Center, 411 N. Front St., are between $40.50-$195, depending upon seating. Click here for more information.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.