RENSSELAER — The Fendig Theatre for Children’s 47th production is returning to a familiar venue: the Rensselaer Central High School auditorium.

This year, the 27-member cast will perform “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical” after some returning members performed two one-hour shows outdoors at Foundation Park last summer.

A return to the auditorium has allowed the cast to work through their lines and dance steps while staying dry.

“Last year, it rained 15 of our 28 rehearsals,” said production coordinator Heather Heinig said. “We don’t have to worry about that this year.”

Performances of the musical will be held on Thursday, July 7 through Saturday, July 9. The July 7 and 8 events will be held at 7 p.m. each night, with the Saturday performance set for 1 p.m.

Tickets are available at Browns Garden and Floral Shoppe, The Willow Switch and any cast member. You can also log on to fendigtheatre.org to get a virtual ticket.

Saturday’s show will be the Fendig Theatre’s first matinee show in the auditorium. Last year, the company performed an afternoon show to avoid a conflict with Rensselaer’s Cruise Night and it was well received by many.

“People really liked that for many reasons,” Heinig said. “It was in the afternoon where some of the older people didn’t have to drive at night or stay out too late.”


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Cast members spent this week working through the challenges of the technical elements of the show. Next week, they will rehearse in costume ahead of the three shows later in the week.

While a return to the auditorium is welcomed by all involved, it has its challenges this year. The high school is undergoing renovation of its roof in a section close to the auditorium and workers have turned off the air conditioning on those areas. The auditorium, however, will continue to have air for Fendig’s shows, Heinig said.

“The school has been pretty generous,” she said. “We really appreciate them letting us use the auditorium this year. The kids have had to shift and move wherever they’re told to make it work.”

Heinig said cast members often congregate in the hallways since many of the classrooms and rooms backstage are not being cooled at this time.

This year’s cast, many of whom are first-year Fendig performers, includes Olivia Barber as Belle, the “Beauty” of the story. The Beast is being performed by Anthony Rodriguez.

Heinig said last year’s productions of “Xanadu Jr.” and “Moana Jr.” featured 15 cast members, so the bump in participation this year was welcomed.

In 2019 during the performance of “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the cast list featured 142 names, which was one of the biggest productions in Fendig’s history.

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