Lee's Summit Journal

‘Beast’ opens bright season for Summit Theater Group. Workshops aim to boost talent

Lee’s Summit West High School Senior Cooper Carr played Gaston sidekick LeFou in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” the opening show of the Summit Theatre Group 2019-2020 season.
Lee’s Summit West High School Senior Cooper Carr played Gaston sidekick LeFou in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” the opening show of the Summit Theatre Group 2019-2020 season. Courtesy photo

More than 100 people came together to put on Disney’s familiar musical “Beauty and the Beast” as the opening act of the 2019-2020 Summit Theatre Group season. The group has four more productions in coming months and will add audition class workshops for both kids and adults.

Summit Theatre Group Company Manager Ginger Birch says diversity has been a focus of the upcoming season. Casting directors have been looking for ways to get older and younger characters on stage, as well as an ethnically diverse cast.

“If we want to be a good representative of our community, we want to include as many people as possible,” Birch said.

This year’s season ranges from bright musicals to darker dramas. The group’s next production is far from the lighthearted musical tone of “Beauty and the Beast.” It is a drama called “Doubt, a Parable.”

“It is a very dramatic, darker social issue play. It speaks about truth and who you can believe and what truth really is,” Birch said.

The December show, “Winter Wonderettes,” is an annual dinner theater featuring pop 1960s style versions of Christmas songs. The season ends with two smaller musicals. This first is called “Ordinary Days” about four people in New York and how their lives intersect. The final show of the season in June of 2020 is a musical comedy called “Hands on a Hardbody” based on a documentary about a real event in Texas where people were trying to win a truck by seeing who could keep their hands on the vehicle the longest.

“It takes on social diversity and tackles situations about life in rural Texas,” Birch said.

This year, the Summit Theatre Group is also starting audition prep workshops. Summer of 2019 was the second year the group offered a camp for kids. Classes are an outgrowth of what parents and community members are requesting. And classes will also help the group to grow.

“They (students) are going to be able to be the future of the organization and help us grow. They will be the ones plugged in and volunteering and helping us continue to thrive in our community,” Birch said.

A winter workshop for ages ninth grade to adult is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 23. A workshop for children in grades 1 to 8 is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 8. Location for those classes is still to be determined. For more information about the classes or to purchase tickets for upcoming performances, visit www.summittheatre.org.

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