Tolman will host AWIP’s ambitious production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Tolman will host AWIP’s ambitious production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

A poster for AWIP’s “Beauty and the Beast,” playing at Tolman High School later this month.

PAWTUCKET – The latest act from A Work in Progress Productions, a local theater group with a home base in Tolman High School’s auditorium, will likely be its most impressive one yet, say those behind it.

Executive Director Jen Roca said AWIP’s performance of the classic tale as old as time “Beauty and the Beast” promises audiences a professional-level production, or the equivalent of going to see a touring production. The production is set for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22-23, at 7:30 p.m. each evening on the Tolman stage on Exchange Street. Tickets are $15 online, or $18 at the door.

Roca said this is a “spectacular production,” and audiences will be blown away by the talent, special effects and inspiring story.

Tolman students will again be incorporated into the homeschool group’s production as part of a longstanding relationship with the school where AWIP continues to invest in Tolman’s auditorium and stage area in exchange for use of the performance space. Tolman students will perform small acting roles and a couple of them will also be on the backstage crew.

This year, AWIP was able to secure an incredible deal and land new side curtains for the stage, said Roca.

There are 45 cast members in a production that combines great performances from seasoned student actors, wonderful costumes, the group’s biggest set, and impressive special effects, including a flying harness system requiring extensive training from an outside company.

“This is one of the best shows we’ve done,” said Assistant Director Noah Jeffrey, a high school senior and past actor who decided to take on a directorial role this year.

This week, in an effort to further enhance the relationship with Tolman, professionals will be giving the high school’s students an inside look at the workings of the production, partially to show them the many job opportunities in the field, said Roca.

AWIP has secured the use of 25 high-tech mics for the Nov. 22-23 production.

“Beauty and the Beast” is an inspiring story with the traditional fairytale themes of hope and redemption, as well as the idea that “love can transform you on the inside,” said Roca. Belle wants more out of life than just being the girl in the tavern chasing after Gaston, and then there’s the redemptive theme of her taking her father’s punishment. The Beast is spoiled and selfish, but becomes less and less of a beast as he learns real kindness and love. His initial actions curse not only himself but the entire castle, but he’s transformed and then the breaking of the curse spreads through no act of his own.

This is the Broadway version of the production, and can’t be changed or adapted.

Roca said AWIP’s “Beauty and the Beast” is “a story told so well,” and illustrates how significant investments of time, money and energy makes all the difference.

“When the arts are done well, they have a bigger impact,” she said.

For more on tickets, visit www.aworkinprogressproductions.com .