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Theater review: Trollwood stages a 'Beauty'

Gaston (Braden Miller, center) is surrounded by his adoring fans during the number "Gaston" in Trollwood Performing Arts School's production of "Beauty and the Beast," Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum1 / 10
Belle (Sarah Schulz) sings her theme song in Trollwood Performing Arts School's "Beauty and the Beast" on Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 10
Beast (Jacob Preisler) and Belle (Sarah Schulz) exchange looks during Trollwood Performing Arts School's production of "Beauty and the Beast" Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum3 / 10
Belle (Sarah Schulz) and Beast (Jacob Preisler) face off in Trollwood Performing Arts School's "Beauty and the Beast," on Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum4 / 10
Gaston (Braden Miller) carries Bell (Sarah Schulz) during the number, "Me," in Trollwood Performing Arts School's "Beauty and the Beast" on Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum5 / 10
Belle (Sarah Schulz) in the opening number of Trollwood Performing Arts School's "Beauty and the Beast" on Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead.Dave Wallis / The Forum6 / 10
The Silly Girls in Trollwood Performing Arts School production of "Beauty and the Beast" Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum7 / 10
Belle (Sarah Schulz) listens to her father Maurice (Konner Doucette) in a scene from Trollwood Performing Arts School's production of "Beauty and the Beast" Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum8 / 10
Mrs. Potts (Carolyn Solberg), Belle (Sarah Schulz) and Waedrobe (Andie Peterson) and Wardrobe (Andie Peterson) in a scene from Trollwood Performing Arts School's production of "Beauty and the Beast" Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum9 / 10
The dance line during the number, "Gaston," in Trollwood Performing Arts School's production of "Beauty and the Beast," Friday, July 14, at Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum10 / 10

MOORHEAD—While Disney's version of "Beauty and the Beast" is only 26 years old, it feels like—to quote Mrs. Potts—"a tale as old as time."

Trollwood's staging of the musical doesn't need any updates and the results are an entertaining mix of great talent and theater magic.

As the female lead, Sarah Schulz is indeed the Belle of the ball with a voice that is not only a Beauty, but surprisingly strong and polished for a high school performer. Her delivery on "Home" is one of the show's highlights and well-deserving of applause.

Schulz doesn't just have the voice. She's got good acting chops and her dancing was as smooth and effortless as her singing. This young woman is going to be a star, if you're not yet convinced that she already is one.

Her counterpart, Jacob Preisler, has a wonderfully mature voice, so it was a shame that his big number, "If I Can't Love Her," was garbled by the wind hitting his microphone on opening night.

Wind is a familiar problem on the outdoor stage and while it wreaked havoc on that number and "Mob Song," it did add dramatic effect as capes and costumes blew in the breeze.

Still, not even Mother Nature could temper the entertainment of the bigger ensemble pieces. "Gaston" boasted some fantastic danceline choreography and "Be Our Guest" featured 45 performers — give or take a knife or two — in a swirling Busby Berkley table setting.

No one seemed to be having more fun onstage than Braden Miller, who plays the vainglorious Gaston, strutting across the stage with a cocksure smile. And the thing is, Miller can be forgiven if he seems like he's bragging because he's that good.

As Mrs. Potts, Carolyn Solberg is as warm as can be just as Andie Peterson is bold and brassy as Wardrobe.

Of the castle characters, it really is Lumiere who shines and Nick Schons lights up for the job. His stiff and stuffy counterpart, Cogsworth, is played admirably and amusingly by Bill Risher just as Jessica Anderson's Babette is fittingly flighty and flirty.

Such a big show requires an equally impressive set and Jack Mehler's rotating design works well. Genevive V. Beller's outfits are colorful and vivid, giving the live production an animated aesthetic.

With an 8:30 p.m. start time, the 2½ hour run time may be a little long for some families, but if your kids are obsessed with princesses, they'll get their fix.

If someone asks you to be their guest, accept this invitation.

If you go

What: Trollwood Performing Arts School's "Beauty and the Beast"

When: Gates open at 7:30 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and July 25 through 29

Where: Bluestem Center for the Arts, 801 50th Ave. S., Moorhead

Info: Tickets range from $10 to $32, children 4 and younger are free in general admission seating. www.trollwood.org. (218) 477-6502. Additionally, Trollwood Performing Arts School and The Brickhouse Tavern are partnering for a free shuttle services to and from the show. Shuttles begin boarding at 6 p.m. on performance nights outside the Brickhouse Tavern, 935 37th Ave. S., Moorhead.

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