NEW FRANKLIN  The Manchester High School Drama Club has new sets, a dedicated cast and crew and a live orchestra for latest performance of "Beauty and the Beast.

"Our drama club is unique in our capabilities to put on a show that is highly student involved. We help build our sets, we contribute to choreography, and we support each other constantly,"said Hannah Collier, a drama club officer.

The Drama Club’s spring musical of "Beauty and the Beast" is inspired by the hype of Disney’s 2017 live-action version. Like the new movie, this performance is closely related to the animated version and actually comes from Disney’s Music Theatre International. The book was written by Linda Woolverton with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and music by Alan Menken.

The story follows Belle, a beautiful young woman in 18th century France, who loves to read but does not fit in with her town. She meets the Beast when she enters his castle in an attempt to rescue her father. Unbeknownst to Belle, the Beast was cursed to be hideous by an enchantress some years ago. To break the spell, the Beast must fall in love and learn to be loved in return.

The drama club chose "Beauty and the Beast" because it fit the cast in numbers and in characters. The production utilizes almost the whole 58-member club with 28 students in cast and 24 as crew.

"It’s a really big show...and a lot of (the students) seem to be really fitting for these characters," Theater Director Justin Elder said.

Students started work on the project in November 2017 with auditions and then jumped right into pre-production. It’s been a nearly non-stop community effort since then. Three weeks ago, the club held a fundraiser with many of the cast in costume. Manchester students from Kindergarten through 6th grade were treated to a Mrs. Potts-themed tea party with beverages, dancing and snacks.

The event was held to offset the cost of a live pit orchestra featuring professional and college musicians.

"It allows the students to take ownership of the song. With a live orchestra, the orchestra follows the singer," said Elder.

Starring in the production is Sam Jungman as Beast (junior), Collier as Belle (junior), Cece Speck as Mrs. Potts (senior), Ryan King as Lumiere (junior), and Brandan Caster as Cogsworth. Ashley Anderson (senior) is the stage manager. The district’s choir teacher Michael Moyseenko will be the pit orchestra director.

The musical also has four new sets and one is highly versatile.

"Officially our sets are the town, the tavern, the woods, and the castle," Elder said. "The castle gets used in a couple different ways and that includes the Belle’s bedroom, the west wing, main dining hall, and the ballroom."

The new sets are courtesy of Tracy Bower, the assistant director. With the help of her woodworking husband, she designed stage settings that can be stacked and moved easily.

The show starts at 7:00 p.m. on March 9 and 10 and 2:30 p.m. March 11. Tickets are now on sale at Manchester High School Main Office and Cope’s Pharmacy. Prices start at $5 for students and senior citizens. General admission is $7 and reserved seats are $8. Senior citizens can also get in free for the Sunday performance.

For those wanting dinner and a show, tickets can be purchased today only for $20 per diner or $16 for senior citizens. The price of the ticket includes a steak dinner and a ticket to the March 10 showing. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m. before Saturday’s performance. Only 150 dinner tickets will be sold.

Selah McKenney, a junior and drama club officer, knows the production is going to be great.

"I can tell ... we may not have the best facility or budget, but our attention to detail and talent is really what makes the show," McKenney said. "I cannot wait for people to see it."