Central Ballet Theatre of Greeneville, (CBT), will be presenting its ballet adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” this Friday-Sunday at Tusculum University.

CBT’s story version is based on both Disney’s animated cartoon and live-action movie. Many fun, special characters are included in the ballet, like the Enchantress danced by Anna Woods, Cogsworth performed by Brian Ricker, and Petra the scary wolf played by David Sparks. With a combination of ballet, acting, and battle scenes, this is a production for people of all ages and interests.

The theme for this year’s ballet, “Beauty and the Beast,” comes from Proverbs 17:9: “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends,” (NLT). This theme is interwoven through two acts as forgiveness blossoms into friendship and love. Audience members will see Belle, danced by Eliza Weekly, fall for a beastly man, portrayed by professional dancer Dillon Davis, only to discover that he is Prince Adam, a now caring and generous man.

There are crazy fight scenes led by karate black belt Ben Sparks in the role of Gaston, and sweet characters like Chip (Alyssa Tipton) and Mrs. Potts (Julie Pickle) who will tap dance in the production, a first for a CBT show!

Another first in “Beauty and the Beast” are flashbacks from former shows CBT has performed. Regular audience attendees should look throughout the ballet for flashbacks from Cinderella, Rapunzel, and even The Snow Queen.

“Beauty and the Beast,” and all the productions that CBT has put on, have become a monumental event for my family every January. I am honored to be a part of Central Ballet Theatre, though I never dreamed this is what my motherhood years would consist of.

My childhood was filled with sports. I grew up playing volleyball, basketball, and softball. As I was growing up, my friends teased and insisted that if I ever had daughters, God would give me dancers. I honestly never gave this a second thought. I was a 6’3” basketball player. Dancing was not going to be a part of their lives.

God had other plans.

My husband, John, and I bought a farm in Bulls Gap in 2014. We chose the Greeneville area purposefully. We wanted an area that had strong Biblical roots. We wanted four seasons. We wanted a small rural hospital for John’s civilian job. We wanted southern hospitality. And we have never regretted moving here for a single moment.

Right after we purchased our farm (and some ducks and chickens), my daughter, Abigail, who was four at the time, begged to dance ballet. I had zero desire to make this dream a reality. My kiddos were going to be athletes, not dancers. But when the pleading didn’t cease, I stumbled upon CBT. Their Christ-centered mission spoke to me, and I contacted Artistic Director LoriAnn Sparks for more information.

Over the next seven years, our involvement with CBT became integral to our family’s life and mission here in Greene County. Central Ballet Theatre’s shows are an opportunity to reach our community and surrounding areas with messages of Christ’s love, forgiveness, redemption, and peace. CBT’s desire is to have large audiences to come enjoy the ballet and find the message in the storyline.

Soon my entire family became involved with CBT’s January productions. This year for “Beauty and the Beast,” my two daughters are dancing. One son is involved in the fight scenes, and another works backstage. My husband, who was an artist before he decided to become a doctor, finds himself enjoying creative character makeup. And my loud, coaching voice, has landed me as the cast coordinator — a very fancy title to describe the person who yells directions and gets people to go where they need to go with as little drama as possible.

CBT ballets have changed our lives. My Abigail is no longer a debilitatingly, shy little girl. My Hannah has learned discipline and gained maturity as she has followed in her big sister’s footsteps. I have made friends and found support from the other parents. This is not the “dance moms” you see on television. This is a group of incredibly caring and devoted Christian parents, working to give their children a solid foundation in dance and life, but even more importantly, their faith.

I’ve also learned that dancing is as much a sport as anything I was involved with. The work these young boys and girls (and adults who also participate!) put into these shows is incredible. It takes 150 volunteer hours for every minute that Beauty and the Beast will be presented to the audiences. This includes all the people you’ll see on stage and all the people behind the scenes who have been working to create the magic you will see on stage.

Please join us for one of the four shows Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. (deaf interpretation offered) and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Tusculum University, Marilyn duBrisk Theatre — formerly The Annie Hogan Byrd Auditorium. This is an opportunity to watch Ms. LoriAnn turn the traditional story of “Beauty and the Beast” into a faith-based adaptation.

My life and the life of my family has been changed by CBT. And we are so proud to help spread some of that change to Greene County – our forever home.

To attend Beauty and the Beast, you may purchase tickets at General Morgan Inn, Catalyst Coffee Company, The Greene House, calling 423-724-7014, or purchasing at the box office one hour before show time. Seats are general admission, so please arrive a half-hour prior to show time. Also, please follow all Tusculum University COVID-19 protocols for everyone’s safety.

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