Hank Stinson, who is playing Maurice in Beauty and the Beast, is taking the summer off from the Charlottetown Festival
When Hank Stinson received a call from Neptune Theatres artistic director asking him to play Maurice in Beauty and the Beast he couldnt resist.
He liked the idea of playing Belles father.
When an opportunity like that comes along you think yes because its the right thing to do. So I told Ron Ulrich Id love to with no guarantee that the show would run beyond May, says Stinson, during a telephone interview.
The beloved fairy tale is about Belle (Julie Martell) who, in trying to fend off the misplaced affections of conceited Gaston (Réjean J. Cournoyer), finds herself face to face with The Beast (George Masswhol), a hideous figure concealing a kind and gentle prince. The production is delighting audiences with its dazzling costumes, revolving sets and special effects in Halifax.
Central to the story is Belles relationship with her father, Maurice.
The role is a good fit for Stinson. Thats because the warm, whimsical qualities essential to this character are very close to the actors own.
Its not a conscious thing, its my personality, a gift from God. And every once in a while you get to play a role where that quality is at the forefront, says Stinson, known to audiences for his portrayal of Matthew in Anne of Green Gables - The Musical and Cousin Jimmy in Emily at the Charlottetown Festival.
In fact, he liked the role so much that he decided to take the summer off from the festival to pursue it.
I have been with the Charlottetown Festival for many years, but every once in a while I get an opportunity to have a change. I felt it was the right thing to do, he says.
Ulrich, who has known Stinson for years, is pleased with his portrayal of the absent-minded inventor who wants to enter his hot chocolate maker in the fair but gets lost along the way.
Maurice has to be charming, lovable and someone who the audience wants to like. Hes Belles father and Hank exudes that in spades, says Ulrich, who also likes his stage presence.
For this play, you have to have people who are good singers and actors or it turns into a cartoon and loses any kind of truth it has.
And he is someone who can do that. When Hank says something on stage, I believe him, Ulrich says.
Now that the musical, which is based on the Disney animated film, has been extended to July 1 at Neptune, Stinson is pleased.
The show is wonderful. It knows its audience. The places where people laugh and where they applaud and where they get misty-eyed are predictable.
And I get the feeling that audience members are fans, the way you have fans at a pop concert adopting certain characters like the candlestick, the clock or the tea cup, says Stinson, one of four Islanders in the cast.
The others include Martha Irving, who plays Mrs. Potts, Monique Lund, Babette, and John Allen MacLean, bookseller.
For Stinson, its a reunion with Charlottetown Festival alumnae choreographer Jim White and actors Randy Ganne, Tory Doctor, Jaz Sealey, Cournoyer and Masswhol.
The nice thing about performing at different theatres is that you realize how small the circle really is. Its great to renew old friendships, says Stinson.
What: Beauty and the Beast. the stage musical at Neptune Theatre until July 1.
Box office: Tickets are available by calling (902) 429-7070 or online at www.neptunetheatre.com.
Disney animated feature film: 1991. It won two Oscars. Actors voices included Belle, Paige OHara; The Beast, Robby Benson; Gaston, Richard White; Maurice, Rex Everhart; Mrs. Potts, Angela Lansbury.
Sally Cole is a features/entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments from readers and suggestions for columns. She can be reached at 629-6000, ext. 6054 or firstname.lastname@example.org.