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Belles of the ball: Young princesses turn out for ‘Beauty and Beast’ (with photo gallery)

Monday, May 21, 2012
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Lily Collins, 5, of Saratoga dresses as Belle from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" for the Proctors production on Sunday.
Lily Collins, 5, of Saratoga dresses as Belle from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" for the Proctors production on Sunday.

— Dozens of tiny yellow dresses dotted the crowd entering Proctors on Sunday afternoon for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” stage play.

“She just loves princesses,” said Mikki Steele of Guilderland, who brought her 4-year-old daughter Parker in a puffy yellow Belle dress. “She has every single one of them, but her favorites are Ariel and Belle.”

Along with Parker came father, Alex, and brother Bradie, looking almost as excited as the little princess.

“We’ve had these tickets since August 2011,” Mikki Steele said.

As the 2 p.m. show neared, tiny Belles came in twos and threes, shuttled from parking garage to Proctors by hurried parents.

Natalie Castiglione, 4, of Rotterdam, Zoe Finazzo, 6, of Schenectady, and Megan Lane, 4, of Clifton Park all arrived together in nearly matching dresses, three friends transformed into triplet royalty for an afternoon.

“Megan loves anything princess,” Vickie Lane said. “She’ll love this, as long as the Beast isn’t too scary.”

For 4-year-old Rebecca Smith, also sporting yellow ruffles, the show was a birthday present, but not hers.

“It was actually for his birthday,” Carie Smith, of Delmar, said, pointing to her son Thomas, “At least that’s what I told him.”

Sunday was the last performance of the “Beauty and the Beast” tour’s weeklong stay at Proctors. The touring show will now go to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.

“We’ve been touring since February 2010,” said Rachel Silvestrini, assistant retail manager for the production. “Since then, we’ve been to all but eight states.”

While exact numbers could not be discussed, the show’s stay at Proctors was very successful.

“It sold beyond our expectations,” said Proctors Marketing Director Richard Lovrich, “Before it even opened, we met all of our goals. We’re terribly happy about it.”

The merchandise stand, which travels with the tour, did particularly well on Belle tiaras and keepsake programs.

“We want them to have just the right little thing to help them remember the show,” said Michael Raymond, production retail director.

Lovrich theorizes the play’s popularity is because of its family friendliness, but tour staff, who have seen thousands of little yellow dresses all over the county, suggested a different answer: princesses.

“Belle is clearly super popular,” Raymond said. “It’s really fun to see all the little girls in costume. We get to call them princess and watch their faces light up.”

Even some mothers are apparently reminded of their childhood desire.

“We’re selling a lot of Belle tiaras to little girls,” Silvestrini said, “but we’re selling a lot to mothers as well, which is funny.”

With “Beauty and the Beast” packing their vans and many little yellow dresses safely back in closets, Proctors is gearing up for its next family play.

“We’re just sitting tight and waiting for ‘Mary Poppins,’ ” Lovrich said.

 

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