A Look Behind the Curtain

This September, we are bringing Disney’s Beauty & the Beast: In Concert to the stage in a sweeping concert version, featuring a choir, orchestra, full cast, and the unique incorporation of other CFCArts members. We are working to create the largest, most inclusive production the region has ever seen, representing so much of the work that CFCArts does every year on a single stage.

We’re so excited to share this celebration of community and collaboration with you!

(Click here to read more of a show overview!)

Song as Old as Rhyme

The music of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken truly brings the tale of Beauty & the Beast to life. The iconic melodies have spanned generations, and our Community Choir members are ready to bring those adored tunes to the stage once again.

In February of 2011, Central Florida Community Arts began with just one program: Community Choir. Since that time, the choir has grown to over 250 voices per season who perform full concerts that feature many different styles of music. Their annual holiday extravaganzas, like this year’s Christmas at the Movies, have become a Central Florida tradition for many.

In addition to weekly rehearsals and at least two program-specific concerts per year, choir members have the opportunity to give back to the community through volunteer performances for partners and other nonprofit organizations. Because CFCArts is community-based with the goal of providing everyone with a place onstage, our choir is non-auditioned and open to anyone ages 18+.

Brandon Fender, our choral programs director and the co-music director of Disney’s Beauty & the Beast: In Concert, along with Melody Rivero, our choir manager, shared what this production means for the ensemble and how it marks a historic opportunity for our members to shine.

Over half a dozen of the cast members are also a part of the Community Choir throughout the year, and in this magical production, we are able to showcase intersections of programs like this in one spectacular evening!

“The beautiful part of the concert version of this production is that the choir is just as much part of the story as everyone else,” Brandon said. “They will be seated on stage with the main actors and ensemble during the entire production and will play such a unique part in bringing this story to life.”

Disney’s Beauty & The Beast: In Concert is the choir’s eighth full-scale, concert-style version of a Broadway musical. Past titles include Ragtime, Titanic, Oklahoma!, The Music Man, Into the Woods, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Each performance over the years has brought fond memories and new skills to the choir members, and Beauty & the Beast is no exception, forging a special connection among the group.

“One of the biggest themes for me is the correlation between the ‘Be Our Guest’ number and how passionate the choir is about their audience and putting on a good show,” Brandon said. “There’s such a connection between the themes of putting on a good show and making the guests feel taken care of.”

The ways that members from across CFCArts are coming together to tell the beloved story create some especially unique and meaningful moments.

Melody also sings in the choir, and her son Ethan is part of the Beauty and the Beast Youth Theatre Troupe.

“This will be the first time Ethan and I will get to perform in the same CFCArts show,” she said. “He has done 17 shows and countless camps with our Youth Theatre Programs, and I’ve been a part of the choir shows for the last few years. But I am extremely excited that we will finally have the chance to share the experience of being on stage together.”

But for Brandon, there’s another personal note found in this show.

“The highlight of this season is to hear the masterful works of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman soar quite literally off the page,” he said. “To be able to experience the original 1992 animated film in the theatre as a kid only to direct and hear it come to life 30 years later as an adult is a very big full circle moment for me.”

This nostalgic feeling is shared by so many of the Community Choir members and others involved in the production, and they can’t wait for audiences to experience the magic of the music they have grown to be so fond of!

Community Choir members present Once Upon a Dream in May 2023.

About the Show

Step into the enchanted world of Broadway’s classic, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: In Concert, an international sensation that has been produced in 37 countries worldwide. Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature, the stage version includes all of the timeless songs written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, along with new songs by Mr. Menken and Tim Rice. The original Broadway production ran for over thirteen years and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. This concert version will bring you right into the magic!

The classic story tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed into his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

September 7-8 at 7:30pm
Northland Church (522 Dogtrack Rd, Longwood)
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