ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- Kate Henreckson, who plays Belle, in the Tulip Festival production of "Beauty and the Beast," said her 3-year-old daughter, a "Beauty and the Beast" fanatic, has mixed feelings about her mother playing a lead role in the musical.
"She's excited and a little possessive, because she thinks that she's Belle," Henreckson said.
Becky Donahue, the musical's choreographer, said the show appeals to the kids in the audience -- of course -- but also the adults.
"The musical is very different from the Disney cartoon, as in there's lots of little things for adults to enjoy," Donahue said, including humor geared more toward grown-ups, as well as a "bigger climax and a deeper story," and extra songs that aren't in the 1991 film.
The musical, which runs May 15-19, is, of course, replete with familiar numbers from the film, including "Be Our Guest" and "Something There."
Donahue said she and director Todd Vande Griend decided to stage the Broadway musical because they wanted something big for the Tulip Festival Night Show.
"We started talking about this back in probably June or so -- we felt we needed to do something that's going to be big and engaging, and 'Beauty and the Beast' is just something that I think reaches a broad audience, and has a nice showstopping quality to it," Donahue said.
More than three dozen actors will take part in the production, including a number of "enchanteds" (the anthropomorphic household items), such as the candlestick Lumière, the teapot Mrs. Potts, the slightly damaged teacup Chip, the clock Cogsworth, the wardrobe and others.
And the producers made sure the costumes would be right for all the characters -- Lumière, for example, will have "flames" at the ends of his hands. The costumes are being rented from a Florida costume house.
In addition to the huge cast, the elaborate costumes, the myriad song-and-dance routines and all the other challenges presented by "Beauty and the Beast," Donahue said it's not easy to get that Disney enchantment down pat.
"The challenging part is actually figuring out the magic of it, because there's lots of magic that has to happen; there are transformations, from the old beggar woman to a pretty girl, happening on stage," Donahue said.
Henreckson said the cast has been rehearsing three or four nights a week ("and now we're at five to six nights a week") since January.
"Our director has said that this is one of the most complex and difficult shows we have ever put on for the Tulip Festival," she said. "In terms of special effects and costuming and design and everything that goes into it."
Brandon Miller, who plays the Beast, has been the lead in the Tulip Festival show before -- he was Shrek in last year's musical bearing the same name. But his roles as the green ogre and the hairy, scary beast haven't made him too boastful about his stage prowess.
"I haven't really done (acting) a whole lot," Miller said. "I was in an improv comedy group in college, but otherwise, nothing as far as acting goes."
One of the big challenges of being the Beast is getting the "deep, growly" vocalizations right.
"Vocally, I have to give myself a voice that isn't my normal voice, so I'm doing a little voice acting in there," he said. "It's a little tough, because you can be angry and growly... but then to have that gruffness during a tender moment is difficult."