‘Beast’ unleashed

Elk River Community Theatre opened a series of performances of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” at Zabee Theater in Elk River High School. It will take the show on the road next weekend for the theater company’s inaugural shows in the new Zimmerman High School theater.

Belle, played by Lilly Hayworth, and the Beast, played by Russ Bran-jord.

This professional theater experience will include a cast of 66 local actors, actresses and vocalists; countless backstage crew; a full orchestra and a stunning set.

There are three shows remaining in Elk River. One is tonight at 7 p.m. (July 21), one at  2 p.m. tomorrow (July 22) and the other is at 2 p.m. Sunday (July 23).

The Zimmerman shows will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 28, and at 2 p.m. on July 29 and 30.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.erct.org.

Gaston, a vain suitor who wants to marry Belle because of her beauty, is played by Joshua Malley. Elizabeth Budahn is Belle here.

Belle will be portrayed by actress and vocalist Lilly Hayworth, who began her career in theater at the age of 4 months and attended the St. Paul Conservatory for the Arts. Her understudy is Elizabeth Budahn.

Father of five, Russ Branjord, plays the Beast. For Branjord, this is a family affair, as his wife and children are involved in the show- either in front of or behind the curtain.

Photo by Jim Boyle
Elizabeth Budahn, here playing Belle, along with Kirk Davis, playing Maurice, Belle’s father.

Josh Malley has a stellar performance as the arrogant Gaston. Other performers include ERCT veterans Michael Conrad (Cogsworth), Lucas Ibister (Lumiere), Jodi Acker and Diane Jones (Wardrobe), Cheryl Hathaway and Janine Wilke (Mrs. Potts), Dave Inselman (Lafou), Eva Jones and Elizabeth Inselman (Babette), and Sam Branjord and Owen McCready (Chip).

Lilly Hayworth, playing a school teacher during dress rehearsal of “Beauty and the Beast,” had her students move in closer. The children are Addison Beaudry, Aleese Diekow, Claire Yarmon and Addie Roeder. Hayworth also plays Belle. The understudy for Belle is Elizabeth Budahn.