Austin Goff is a kind and gentle 18-year-old. But recently, he’s changed into someone who’s angry at the world — a beast you could say.
The transformation came about when Austin got the part of Beast in StageStruck’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Beast is the part Austin was hoping for when he auditioned.
“It’s my senior show, and I really wanted to do it big,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid growing up, it’s always been the iconic movie. The tale is truly as old as time. Just getting a chance to portray that just always amazed me.”
Not only did Austin have to change his attitude for most of the play, but he had to change his voice and even the way he walks.
“I do have to go in my lower register, angry voice,” he said. “It can be challenging. It can be straining.”
Austin also had to learn to move differently because he’s a beast in the play.
“I have to walk around with more of a slouch because I don’t know how to be a man as the Beast,” he said. “It’s kind of wider struts. It can be challenging because you don’t walk like that on a day-to-day basis. But I’m making progress with it.”
Artistic director Holly Mason said Austin and all the other actors in the production are doing a really great job perfecting their parts.
“StageStruck is doing this play because this is the 10-year anniversary of when they did ‘Beauty and the Beast’ previously,” she said.
Holly said it’s based on Disney’s animated version of the movie, which won an Academy Award.
“It’s the story of finding the beauty in ourselves,” she said. “Belle transforms the Beast by loving him. He, who has had had this spell put on him by an enchantress, is finding out that you have to love someone to find the beauty within yourself. As Mrs. Potts said, ‘It’s not enough to love someone, but you have to be loved back.’ And Belle does that, loves him back. That’s what breaks the spell.”
Belle will be played by 17-year-old Kearston Hudson. It’s a part that she really wanted because “Beauty and the Beast” has been one of her favorites since she was little.
“Belle is more of a feisty princess and not the normal princess that everyone expects,” she said.
To get into her part, Kearston likes to get into her own space, go over her lines and review some of the music.
“I put myself into her situation and how I would personally react compared to how she would react,” she said. “I get in her mind.”
Playing Belle is sometimes challenging for Kearston because Kearston sometimes feels like maybe Belle does something that she wouldn’t necessarily do.
“It’s a little challenging discovering why she reacts the way she does,” Kearston said.
Kearston’s favorite costume is Belle’s yellow dress.
“I think every kid, when they’re young, likes dressing up in a princess dress,” she said. “I never outgrew that because I still like dressing up like a princess.”
Kearston’s favorite memory rehearsing for “Beauty and the Beast” came the first time the cast finished the choreography for the song “Beauty and the Beast.”
“This is my senior show, and that was emotional for all of us,” she said. “It’s a beautiful dance, and I’m doing it with my best friend. It was a powerful moment. All of my StageStruck memories culminated in that one moment.”
Her co-star, Austin, remembers a scene from the call back where he as Beast, Belle and Gaston were doing the scene where Beast dies.
“Belle and I were on the ground, and I had to die in her lap,” he said. “As I went down, her hand was perfectly placed on the front of my neck. There was complete silence. It was a very dramatic moment. And then I said, ‘I’m being choked’ (which is not part of the scene). The whole room just laughed and laughed.”
Gaston will be portrayed by 18-year-old Ethan Taylor, who wanted either that part or the part of Lumiere.
The biggest challenge for him is not being allowed to look at anybody in the entire show.
“If I’m looking at them, I’m giving them value,” Ethan said. “To Gaston, he is the only one who has value. If I look at them, it means I care about what they’re talking about.”
Ethan has also had to perfect his Gaston walk.
“His walk is a little bit different than mine,” he said. “He’s got a very wide stance. He takes up a lot of space as he walks, so I have to make sure I’m walking in as big a space as possible.”
There are a lot of enchanted objects in the play, who used to be people. To create these costumes, the costumers had to add pieces to make the object look like an object.
“The costumers have worked really, really, really hard,” Holly said. “The objects are transforming themselves, that’s part of the spell. They’re hoping that the Beast is going to break the spell so they can go back to their normal lives as well.”
Holly said “Beauty and the Beast” is for all ages, even children.
“I hope the audience takes away that we all have issues or problems,” she said. “And sometimes we don’t think we’re the prettiest person in the world. But we are loveable. And we have something to give because the beauty is within us.”