LEMOORE — The Lemoore High School Players are inviting the public to be their guest for a classic musical.

The story of a handsome prince turned into a terrible beast and the woman who can see past his horrific visage, “Beauty and the Beast,” runs Wednesday, April 10-12.

Standing in the way of the iconic romance between Belle and Beast is the arrogant hunter Gaston, played by Holden Knupp.

“It’s a fun, big cocky character to play. It’s fun to stand up there and puff your chest out,” he said.

This will be Knupp’s second performance on the Lemoore High School stage show. After playing a small role in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” earlier this year — which he took “on a dare” — he will now step up to play one the lead roles — the braggadocios and conceited Gaston.

“I thought they wanted me to play a villager or a tree or something, but it turned out they wanted me to play Gaston,” he said.  

Knupp said that entering the world of theater has been “a trip,” and has acclimated well to stepping outside his comfort zone.

The senior, a member of the swim team, the water polo team and is current Future Farmers of America officer, said that he grew up watching the animated Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast,” mostly due to its songs.

Knupp’s co-star, Jasani Morales, also grew up a fan of the movie and jumped at a chance to audition for Belle, one of her favorite Disney princesses.

“[Belle’s] personality is amazing. She’s smart and independent. I can relate to her, as a character,” Morales. “I’ve watched the movie thousands of times and I love it.”

Morales has been in choir for three years but never made the jump to drama until the opportunity presented itself to embody a Disney princess, she said.  This will be her first drama production and, as a senior, it’s likely her last.

“Acting is definitely something new for me, it’s a new challenge, but I like it and I think I’m catching on,” she said, adding that she’d be open to auditioning for roles in musicals at college or elsewhere in the future.

The production is co-directed by senior Kayla Walters and junior Jayla Coronado.

Coronado had learned that she’ll be playing the character of Babette on the night of one of the performances only moments before The Sentinel visited rehearsals.

“It was very surprising, but I’m excited for it,” she said.

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