Beautiful tradition continues tonight: Brindley founder’s granddaughter takes lead part in Beauty & The Beast

By BY ADELAID FLETCHER FOR THE E-T,

After 40 years, tradition continues when Claire Brindley takes the Mid-Delta Arts Association stage as Belle in Beauty & The Beast.

Claire is the granddaughter of MDAA founder John Brindley, (1946-2016)  and MDAA Board president Mary Ruth Brindley.

Beauty & The Beast opens June 20 at 7 pm for eight performances in Indianola.

There are 10 principle roles for this show. 

Director Eddie Donahoe   held tryouts in December and cast the show early in 2019. 

These actors bring diverse backgrounds to the stage and audiences will be transported to a magic land far, far away.

Claire is from Memphis and is a recent graduate of White Station High School with plans to attend Middle Tennessee State University in the fall majoring in music.

Joining Claire are fellow Memphians and White Station students, Rachel Thomas, as Babette, Jacob Hatfield, as Lefou and Nick Larsen as Lumiere. 

The group began rehearsals in January and has been in Indianola regularly throughout the spring.  Director Eddie Donahoe and Mary Ruth Brindley have served as their hosts for the last 6 months.

Mrs. Pots will be played by Amy Phillips, who brought this role to the stage 10 years ago at her high school in California.  Amy came to Indianola six years ago with Teach for America and has been teaching third grade at Indianola Academy.

Belle’s father Maurice is played by Wallace Skelton, who has served in many capacities for the MDAA.  He is also the proud father of Taylor Skelton who is the Beast.  Taylor is a CNA at South Sunflower County Hospital and is married and the father of three.

Veteran actor Robert Sledge is Cogsworth, the mantle clock and major-domo of the castle. Rounding out the animated characters is Emily Shafer, Madame de la Grande Buche, an opera singer wardrobe.

MDAA newcomer Brandon Walls is playing the role of Gaston, the pompous ladies man.  Brandon is a Registered Surgical Nurse at South Sunflower County Hospital.

While this versatile cast takes the stage, they are under the untiring direction of Dr. Eddie Donahoe.  “Dr. Eddie” as most of the young people call him can do it all. 

He can build a set and deliver a baby, all in the same night. 

He can cast a show and set a broken arm. 

While most directors concentrate on blocking the scene, Eddie, blocks the scene all the while constructing the very stairs they will walk up. 

Dr. Donahoe’s passion for this production is inspiring to all the cast and crew. 

  Memphian Nick Larsen says his experience with this MDAA production has been a blast.  “I have enjoyed being in Indianola, getting to know the young people and working with Dr. Donahoe”.  He continues, “Jacob and I have enjoyed being part of the Donahoe “family” this summer.”

The eight performances for Beauty & The Beast  “sold out” a week before opening night!  What a testimony to the cast, crew, orchestra, directors and MDAA board.  

Mary Ruth Brindley said,  “This show was a huge undertaking and commitment for all involved.  We hope that each person who enjoys Beauty & The Beast will want to join MDAA and become a Patron for 2019/2020.”

Patron information for the next season will be announced later in the summer. 

There are opportunities to be a part of every production.  One can be an actor, director, musician, singer, crew, makeup artist, usher and supporter by their attendance. 

Most of all, be a patron.  Patron membership gives members advanced ticket purchases and most of all a chance to support the arts into this area of the Delta.

For those not able to get a ticket, they can come to the Brindley Theater in Indianola on any production night and if there are vacant seats at curtain time they will be able to purchase a ticket. 

First come, first seated.

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