Kids’ Backporch Productions will present its 87th show when 45 children ages 6-14 perform “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast JR.” July 29-31 at C.A. Nelson Auditorium at Pearland Junior High West.

The show is the culmination of a three-week theater camp held in the fellowship hall at Shadycrest Baptist Church in Pearland, said director Lisa Maxwell.

“I have several hopes for the students: first, that they leave the camp a better person; second, they become a better actor; and finally, they have a great production,” she said.

In the 60-minute musical, which is based on the 1994 Broadway production and Disney’s 1991 animated film, Maria Johnigan stars as Belle, a bookworm who is a puzzle to others in her quaint French village. Their provincial life gets turned upside down when Belle becomes captive to the “Beast,” a hideous-looking monster who is actually a young prince trapped under a spell.

“Belle is a princess to admire,” said Maxwell, because she doesn’t fall for Gaston, a strong, handsome brute who is a narcissist; rather, she gets to know the Beast beneath his unsightly exterior.

What: Kids’ Backporch Productions presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast JR.”

Where: C.A. Nelson Auditorium at Pearland Junior High West, 2337 N. Galveston Ave., Pearland 77581

When: 7 p.m. July 29, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 30, 3 p.m. July 31

Admission: $15 adults, $12 seniors (65+), $9 children (under 18)

Information: 281-412-5350,

“They build a relationship,” said Maxwell, who cast Emmerie Ricketts as the Beast and Ariana Lim as Gaston.

“Our Beast and our Gaston are females,” she said. “It is really challenging for them because they both have to perform with a masculine quality.”

With themes ranging from mercy and conscience to disinformation and mob rule, the musical inspired the campers to discuss how the villagers blindly follow Gaston to storm the Beast’s foreboding castle.

“The kids and I talked about really deep things and how they should weigh information and make up their own minds about what gets reported on current events,” the director said.

The choreographer is Jade Williamson.

The women are assisted by eight local high school students, called interns. On rehearsal days, they serve as camp counselors; during each of the four performances, the interns will run tech for the show.

“We chose ‘Beauty and the Beast’ because it is really flexible and we can incorporate all our kids into the story,” said Maxwell.Some of the most coveted roles are characters on the castle staff, including a charming candelabra, a chipped teacup and a nervous mantel clock.

The title song is entrusted to Delaney Cline as Mrs. Potts.

The show’s book was penned by Linda Woolverton.

It has music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Some favorite tunes include “Be My Guest,” “Belle” and “Gaston.”

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be contacted at [email protected]

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