By Jameelah Arcila (USAG Wiesbaden)March 30, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - Thirty-six military children of deployed parents got a special treat watching a classic Disney animated film come to life on stage.
The youths, from U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Child, Youth and School Services, were special guests of the English Theatre Frankfurt's March 12 premiere of "Beauty and the Beast."
"This is the fifth show that we have invited children from the American community to attend," said Wilfried Kastening, a retired Frankfurt banker who donated the children's tickets.
"(It) creates good local memories for the kids," said Kastening adding that he felt that Germans and Americans did not have enough interaction.
The Wiesbaden youths and six CYSS chaperones were shuttled to the free performance via a bus paid for by Andrews federal Credit Union.
Before the play began, the children crowded in front of the small community theater which sits nestled among skyscrapers in the heart of the Frankfurt financial district. At the door, Kastening and Doria Rosen, deputy principal officer for the United States Consulate General in Frankfurt, greeted the group.
The children were led to front row seats where they anxiously awaited the start of the show.
"The kids enjoy this so much," said Kevin Whitfield, one of the CYSS chaperones. "They are totally focused until the very end."
Whitfield attended last year when the theater issued the same invitation. He said that he was so impressed by the experience that he volunteered to come again.
"(The play was) really good and a lot of fun," said Nya Mingo and Megen Schachter, both students at Hainerberg Elementary School.
The play included music from the classic Disney movie as well as songs not featured in the film.
Mingo and Schachter said their favorite song was "Be Our Guest" - an upbeat number that included singing from the play's golden candlestick character.
All of the play's actors were children.
Theater organizers encouraged the CYSS children to become involved with the theater. "If you see something that you like and feel it's something you'd want to do, this is something you can all be involved in," said Deborah Smith, event organizer and mother of one of the cast members.
After the final curtain call of the nearly three-hour show, the children were invited on stage to meet the actors.
While receiving some complimentary gifts from the theater, Braydon Fleming, Hainerberg Elementary School third-grader, could not choose a favorite part. "The whole play was really interesting," said Fleming. "I liked the clock and the candle (characters) and especially the guy who didn't want to go in the woods."
Performances of "Beauty and the Beast" continue on Saturdays and Sundays through April 10 at 2 p.m.
For more information on tickets or involvement in future productions, visit www.english-theatre.org.