Stars of Abilene Christian’s ‘Magnificence and the Beast’



► Lauren McDonald: A second semester junior majoring in musical theater, from Houston.

► Richard Gomez: A senior music theater/directing main, additionally from Houston.

Be aware: The 2 actors didn’t know one another earlier than coming to Abilene. Nevertheless, after they met, Gomez realized he had seen McDonald carry out “James and the Large Peach” in a Humphreys College of Musical Theatre manufacturing at Houston’s Miller Outside Theatre. Just one actor impressed him, and that was Aunt Spiker. “She was the one one I preferred,” he informed McDonald. That was me, she mentioned brightly. “Properly, there you go,” he mentioned.

We have seen you earlier than in:

► Lauren McDonald: Shelby in ACU’s spring manufacturing of “Metal Magnolias,” and within the ensembles for “Great City,” final yr’s homecoming present, and “Cats, the 2017 musical. She additionally has been in ACU’s “Sense and Sensibility” and “James and the Large Peach.”

► Richard Gomez: His ACU resumé is lengthy and consists of the magical Ladahlord in “James and Large Peach,” in addition to the memorable characters Outdated Deuteronomy in “Cats” and Sancho Panza in “Man of La Mancha.” He additionally was in “Sense and Sensibility,” “Palms on a Exhausting Physique,” “Laughter on the 23rd Flooring” and “Peter and the Star Catcher.”

Roles in “Magnificence and the Beast”: 

► Lauren McDonald is Belle: McDonald mentioned she is a large fan of the the present and Belle (“She is my favourite Disney princess,” she mentioned, one cause being she and Belle each have brown eyes and brown hair) and within the solid for the third time. That is her second time as Belle, with one other efficiency as a plate. This fall, she is revisiting Belle as a extra mature actress. McDonald mentioned she has grown up respecting Belle as somebody “I’ve appeared as much as. She is clever and so form. Who she is and what she represents is all the pieces I aspire to be. I really like her coronary heart and the way she sees past the floor to search out the wonder in folks. I relate rather a lot to Belle.” So, she mentioned, she could be Belle and herself on the identical time.

► Richard Gomez is “Beast: Not like McDonald, he has not carried out his “Magnificence and the Beast” position however he was Maurice (Belle’s father) in a 2018 manufacturing in Illinois. He mentioned his personal story is remarkably just like that of Beast, which has allowed him to tackle the position as his personal. He identifies with McDonald’s remark that “the position is one I can relate to.”

Lauren McDonald: As Shelby and Belle, McDonald has performed characters who’re immersed in reality. Combining who she is off stage with who these sturdy feminine characters has been “an ideal mix” that she has loved. On this position, she is the star. With that, nonetheless, comes the chance, or maybe the accountability, of working with the solid. “You’re solely as sturdy because the ensemble,” she mentioned. Everybody on stage is “extraordinarily helpful,” so she has hung out at rehearsal attending to know the opposite characters — their names, backgrounds and “how we relate.”

► Richard Gomez: Beast is a personality to which he can relate as a result of, Gomez mentioned, he, too, “discovered myself in my very own private jail” of melancholy and different private points that led him to taking a university “hole yr.” A kind of points was weighing greater than 300 kilos and doing one thing about it. He has misplaced greater than 75 kilos, he mentioned. Thus, he has been remodeled by a mixture of unconditional love, religion and the assist “of these closest to me.” The facility of affection is reworking, he mentioned. Beast, he mentioned, is him; their tales parallel. “I am truthfully taking part in myself. I used to be offended with the world, with God, with myself,” he mentioned, and that was barrier to connecting with others.

What the viewers will get out of this manufacturing:

► Lauren McDonald: Once more, it is the guts of Belle she hopes resonates with these in attendance. “We do not know everybody’s full story, so we won’t decide them on what we understand solely on the floor,” she mentioned. “Individuals are value greater than than simply face worth. We will see beneath that’s their coronary heart and sweetness. It is a lovely story, and my favourite.”

► Richard Gomez: Gomez hopes these in seats will take note of his character. “I actually need them to have a look at themselves,” he mentioned. “Beast has to do loads of soul-searching. Do they see Beast in themselves?” Will he keep the identical and the enchantment of his servants maintain, or will he permit like to change him? Can the viewers, Gomez asks, equally relate to their lives at church, with God, with others and themselves? “I hope they’ll start to let go of that and work towards transformation, too. The place are they on their journey, and are they OK with that?”

► Lauren McDonald: McDonald already has carried out professionally, and hopes to take action for the third time subsequent yr. She has labored with the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Principal Avenue Theatre in Houston. She plans to choreograph the 24-hour musical (contributors have someday to stage a present not introduced upfront) at ACU that could be a fundraiser for theater pupil group Alpha Psi Omega.

► Richard Gomez: ACU has a practice of taking graduating college students to New York Metropolis to showcase their skills however Gomez mentioned he isn’t that large into working there. He would if he clicks with an agent, however he hopes sometime “construct from the bottom up” and function his personal theater. To get there, graduate college would be the higher future course.

Greg Jaklewicz is editor of the Abilene Reporter-Information. In case you admire domestically pushed information, you may assist native journalists with a digital subscription to

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