Ritter Park packed for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ | News

HUNTINGTON – Opening weekend for the Huntington Area Regional Theater production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” at Ritter Park was nothing shy of magical.

From the awe-inspiring set to the transformative makeup, costumes and cast members who truly embodied their characters, it was hard for John and Julia Hutchison to pick their favorite part.

“Just seeing how they made the whole story come together, it was magical,” said Julia Hutchison, a retired school teacher.

Julia, 66, said coming to these outdoor performances has become a tradition for her and her husband since before the Huntington Area Regional Theater – or HART – took the place of Huntington Outdoor Theater – HOT – in 2013.

“We are here every summer because we know it’s important to support our local theater,” she said. “We have such good talent in our area, and we need to support them and let them know that we appreciate what they do.”

Megan Creasy, 24, who plays Belle, said support from the audience was evident opening weekend, especially Friday night as more than 500 people packed the Ritter Park Amphitheater.

“After the pre-show ended, and I heard the audience applause, I knew there was a lot of people out there. And, then when I actually got on stage and saw the hundreds of people, it was amazing,” she said. “And the energy that was brought by the crowd was just so inspiring for everyone on stage.

For lead actors Creasy and Levi Kelley, who plays the Beast, stepping into their roles was a dream come true.

“This is a role that I have wanted to play since it was done on this stage 12 years ago,” said Kelley, who is 23 years old. “In my opinion the Beast is one of Disney’s best characters. He’s so well written and has a story that a lot of people can relate to, like feeling lonely or having social anxiety like I do myself.”

Creasy said she also sees a great deal of herself in Belle, who also happens to be her…

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