Beauty and the Beast, the latest production from Brampton Music Theatre (BMT), made its debut at the Rose Theatre on March 29.

This production is part of a pilot project that incorporates two sets of the main cast. According to theatre director Joe Gomes, this allows more members of the theatre community to take part in the production.

Gomes and the main cast members are longtime fans of the Disney musical. They all have between 10 and 40 years of musical theatre experience between them. The cast is enthusiastic about not only the production itself, but also the characters they play.

Klint Uzuni, who plays Gaston, says Beauty and the Beast was the musical that sparked his interest in theatre in the first place. James Austin, who plays The Beast, has been a fan of the character since childhood. Carina Cautillo thinks Belle – the character she portrays – is the most relatable of all the Disney princesses. “She’s not only spunky and independent,” Cautillo observes, “all of her relationships are rooted in love.”

The professionalism and dedication behind the scenes at BMT is impressive. Andrew Scott, the other Beast, says “there’s a tangible chemistry there, a passion behind the acting because we are all so committed to the performance.” Sharon Nimmo, who plays Mrs. Potts, notes that BMT attracts a “certain level” of cast member. She also says the shows tend to be “overwhelming” experiences for the audience. It’s obvious that a lot of work goes into a typical BMT production. In addition to the numerous rehearsals, they must source costumes and create props.

This means productions can also be expensive. BMT president Sharon Vandrish notes that the music rights alone can cost as much as $20K. Yet BMT relies solely on ticket sales to keep going; they receive no grants or funding from the city. Profits will go towards the next production.

This is the 13th BMT show Gomes has directed. He thinks audiences will be pleasantly surprised by the elegant production, which includes a 16-piece live orchestra. Nimmo agrees. “Community theatre doesn’t have to be cheesy,” she says, “you can get the quality of a downtown Toronto production right here in Brampton.” She also thinks everyone should experience the world of musical theatre at least once, pointing out that “you’re also helping to support performers who are critical to the arts and culture community of Brampton.” Austin says a night enjoying a BMT production is a legitimate night out: “There’s a bar in the Rose Theatre!” Carina agrees and adds that “the Rose Theatre is a really magical place.”

Cautillo also remarks on the “unique, cohesive energy” in community theatre. She says there is “an energy” that translates to the audience, and that “you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.” Jason Benson (who also plays Gaston) agrees: “People are often disconnected now because of busy lives and distractions like the internet, but BMT is old school. It’s almost tribal.”

Karyn Monk, who also plays Mrs. Potts, says a musical theatre performance “is good for your soul; you hope the audience feels what you are feeling on stage.” Gomes has yet another take: “There’s a kind of electricity there. The moment when you share something with the people in the performance or in the audience is the kind of thing that only happens once in a lifetime.”

Beauty and the Beast will be at the Rose Theatre from March 29 through April 7. You can purchase tickets at the Rose Theatre website.