FORTVILLE — Costumes. It’s a magic word among theater people.

Better still? “The costumes are here.”

When that news passed from actor to actor in the cast of Mt. Vernon High School’s “Beauty and the Beast,” excitement swelled among the young thespians.

Andrew Okerson, in his second year as drama director at Mt. Vernon, ordered the costumes for the production — which runs through Sunday — from a company in Colorado called Disguises. They’re custom-fitted for the cast and an integral part of the show’s pizzazz.

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The show, based on the Disney feature film, tells the story of Belle and her unlikely friend, a prince who was turned to a beast by a witch’s curse. In a “tale as old as time,” the two fall in love, breaking the witch’s spell.

Senior Rylie Gendron was one of the first to emerge from the dressing room last week, in a perfectly fitting black-and-white gown covered with sequins and, of course, feathers, befitting her character, Babette the feather duster.

“I absolutely love it. It will be perfect to dance in,” Gendron said, spinning around. “I have to do the tango with Lumiere.”

Lumiere, the candelabra played by senior Elijah Duff, sat on the edge of the stage in a blue-sequined body suit at a recent rehearsal staring at his hands, covered with two larger-than-life candlesticks, the main feature of his character’s costume. Not being able to use his hands on stage doesn’t seem to phase Duff, however; it’s giving voice to Lumiere that’s tough.

“The biggest challenge has been getting down the really strong French accent,” Duff said.

The group rehearsed “Beauty and the Beast” for 12 weeks before opening. Okerson’s biggest challenge was making sure all 63 people involved in the show received feedback from him and the other directors. Okerson chose “Beauty and the Beast” because he felt his group of actors was ready to do a big show.

“We are ready to fill the stage,” Okerson said. “And it will.”

The show features a colorful cast of characters, including talking dishes and furniture that inhabit the beast’s castle.

Seniors Lauren Matson, who plays Silly Girl No. 2, and Ashley Fritz, who plays the wardrobe, say “Beauty and the Beast” was an excellent choice for the fall musical.

And as children who grew up with Disney, they know it by heart.

“It’s a classic,” Fritz said. “I watched it like a hundred million times.”

“It’s family-friendly,” Matson added, “but there’s parts in it for adults and little kids.”

Senior Chelsea Theobald, cast in her dream role as Belle, is eager to explain why Belle is the best of the Disney princesses.

“She’s not like ‘I want to go to the ball’ and ‘I’m so pretty,’” Theobald said. “She’s intelligent and she has an imagination. She likes to read. Her story isn’t about her. It wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t care about other people. It’s the greatest love story. Love fuels every plot point.”

There are more than 60 kids involved with the show: 33 actors are in the show, and another 30 have worked behind the scenes in some capacity. The show has four directors: Andrew Okerson, acting director; Leigh Anderson, music director; Derrick Ellinger, orchestra director; and Amy Studabaker, choreography and dance director.

If you go

Mt. Vernon High School presents the Disney musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the high school, 8112 N. 200W, Fortville. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults. Visit for more information and to order tickets.

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Christine Schaefer is arts editor and editorial assistant at the Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3222 or