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‘Beauty and the Beast’

Jules Becker

It all starts with a book, “Beauty and the Beast,” the musical that is. After all, what would the 1994 show’s love story be without its fairy tale back story?

For that matter, what would the heroine Belle be without the town bookseller and the world of wonder in his volumes?

The significance of the bookseller is not lost on Kolby Kindle, who plays the role in the latest national tour of the big Broadway hit visiting the Opera House May 29- June 3.

Recently, the 24-year-old, New York City based actor spoke to the Banner his role and about the tour.

“It’s a small role,” Kindle said, “but it’s an important part of the story.”

Alluding to assistant director Sam Scalamoni, he said “He [Sam] reminds me often that the scene is very important to Belle’s character.”

Kindle noted how Belle loves the world of adventure in her books and wishes that she could live in a world like the one a book she reads brings to life. Eventually, of course, she does just that after entering the Beast’s castle, making the most of her host’s library and falling in love with him.

As an important but minor character, the bookseller has a striking look. “I wear a moustache and a beard,” Kindle said. “Although there’s a big wig, it’s light. It’s sturdy but comfortable.”

Kindle also plays one of the knives who were transformed from servants as the prince became the Beast. “All of the costumes (for the cutlery) are gold,” he said. Those costumes are particularly in evidence for the rousing big production number “Be Our Guest” in which the enchanted objects —including Kindle’s knife —are featured. The versatile performer has occasionally subbed for two of the key members of the Beast’s staff—Lumiere, the prince’s maitre de turned into a candelabra, and Cogsworth, his head of house, transformed into a clock.

Appearance and costumes aside, Kindle was appreciative of Scalamoni, ”who has been with the show since the beginning,” and his creative team.

“He [Sam] lets us know that the ensemble is as important as the principals. Kindle pointed to the townspeople’s mob song to go kill the Beast. “He’s very specific about our motives, our fear of the Beast,” he said.

Embracing his touring debut, Kindle has no fears about it. “I love singing and dancing and putting a smile on people’s faces,” Kindle shared. “The story is so beautiful and the tour stays true to the story. It’s fun for the entire family.”

Leading the tour cast are Dane Agostinis as Beast and Emily Behny as Beauty. Logan Denninghoff plays Gaston, the town hunk, who hates Beast and loves Belle unrequitedly.

Theater has been fun for Kindle, as well as a source of wonder. The bachelor of fine arts graduate of Otterbein University has enjoyed his work in productions of “Crazy for You” and “Annie” at the Music Theatre of Wichita and “The Wizard of Oz” at West Virginia Public Theatre.     He also participated in a reading at the Negro Ensemble Company of New York City of “Martin,” a Charles Strouse show that had a debut run Off-Broadway last year.

Declaring that the Martin Luther King-focused work “holds a special place in my heart” as his first job in New York City, he hoped to return to it in the near future.

As much as Kindle loves performing in musicals, he would also like to gain more experience in non-musical fare.

“I’ve come to have an appreciation for plays,” he admitted. His college credentials include “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Absolute Turkey.”

A student of the plays of August Wilson, he called the late great black dramatist’s “Fences” one of his favorites. Summing up his intentions as an actor, he concluded, “I want to be one who can adapt to any style.”

“Beauty and the Beast,” presented by Broadway Across America is showing at the Opera House May 29-June 3. For more information call 1- 800-982-2787 or visit: