ORLANDO – Central Florida Community Arts is less than a month away from its ground-breaking production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: In Concert, a collaborative performance that will bring together members from across the organization to tell the classic story.
“With nearly 250 members taking the stage in this production, this particular telling of the story centers on inclusivity and community,” said CFCArts CEO Terrance Hunter. “Each of these performers represents multiple segments of our beautiful, growing, and diverse community. I’m proud to say for the first time in our history, members from every facet of our work—choir, orchestra, youth orchestra, young performers, older adult performers, performers with exceptional abilities and more—take the stage together in our most robust representation of community to date!”
Bringing together all the various program areas collectively to participate in what this is is a huge undertaking. CFCArts is thrilled to see its Youth Theatre, its School of Arts & Health with Narrators and UpBeat! (acting programs for older adults and performers with exceptionalities such as autism, Down syndrome, and ADHD), its Symphony Orchestra, Youth Orchestra, Big Band, and Community Choir—plus a talented cast of local artists—all be a part of this experience.
“The cross-organization support this show has from our members speaks volumes to this production building a community not only through the arts but also through a collaboration of programs that don’t always have a chance to interact,” Juan Torres, CFCArts’ director of production and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: In Concert show director shared. “Our responsibility in this is not to put our own spin on Beauty & the Beast but to take that amazing story and empower our members to find their voice and their character and to be part of something so much bigger than any one person.”
In this production, more than just the characters will find their voice. With a full orchestra and choir, the music itself becomes its own character that will carry guests on the journey.
“This story, this music is supposed to move you,” said CFCArts VP of Creative & Production Justin Muchoney, who is also the music director for the show, “and with a nearly 50-piece orchestra, you’ll feel the music in a really different, visceral way than you’re used to when you see a Broadway show. It will bring power and majesty to this magic beyond what people are expecting.”
The music is one of several elements that take the experience a step beyond strictly “in concert.” The additional production elements are designed to highlight the existing talent in the Central Florida community and create an experience that makes each person on stage feel valued.
“As we’ve gone into this production, like so often happens when you get the right people in the room, there are some really wonderful talents that you discover people have,” Muchoney said. “We set out with a really broad mentality that this show is going to be whatever this community needs the show to be, whatever they’re ready for and want.”
For CFCArts, shaping the production around the member experience has led to exciting discoveries. For instance, multiple cast members are capable of tap dance features, and one is a competitive ballroom dancer.
“It’s joyous to be able to integrate other skills that they bring to the table into the production,” Muchoney said. “The audience can look forward to seeing surprises and unexpected skills. We’re really seeking to showcase the talent of the people who are right here in our community.”
The production is designed so guests will feel the intention and community behind it all from the very opening sequence. The unique layout of the venue at Northland Church allows singers to perform in the aisles and Belle to walk through the audience on her way to the village. They’ll feel the immense joy of the performers in the tavern with “Gaston.” And “Be Our Guest” will give each group of members a chance to shine and welcome the audience to feel like a part of the story.
“This production highlights our values of inclusivity and accessibility on so many levels,” said Muchoney. “We are so excited to share all that makes CFCArts unique and wonderful. Bringing together our members from across our organization to join in the fun, helping us to tell this story with joy and collaboration. We can’t wait for everyone on the stage and in the audience to experience this moment together.”