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Beauty and the Beast Jr. has much bigger goal than just entertaining

Beauty and the Beast Jr. has much bigger goal than just entertaining

A children’s play in Hagerstown will reap a greater reward than simply just entertaining an audience.

The Friends Meeting School is scheduled to perform Beauty and the Beast Jr. at The Maryland Theatre on Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m. The proceeds of the play will benefit the Maryland Food Bank.

Fresh Academicz, a dance troupe from Hagerstown, will be performing, as well as students from the Maryland School for the Deaf, who will perform dramatic scenes. This school, which is located in Ijamsville, is in its 14th year of organizing children’s plays in conjunction with food banks.

“We started with the Frederick Food Bank, and we’re now with the western branch of the Maryland Food Bank located in Hagerstown,” said Brenda Yankaskas, performing arts director at Friends Meeting School. “The Maryland Food Bank funnels food to many other places that distribute food. They’ll funnel food to the Frederick Rescue Mission, the Frederick Food Bank and to places where people are food insecure.”

Attendees are required to bring a canned or boxed food item in addition to purchasing a ticket for $17.

“If there’s a group that wants to help out but if they’re having trouble with the ticket prices, they can call me and we can arrange something,” Yankaskas said. “We have a dual mission, while we want to raise food and get food together, we want to make this event accessible to anyone that wants to come.”

The plays have raised more than $11,570 and over 7000 pounds of food in the last 14 years of putting on plays. All types of boxed and canned goods have been accepted.

“We get pasta, peanut butter, soup...” Yankaskas said. “We request water bottles because homeless people need a way to have water with them. We get canned vegetables, some canned fruit.”

The young actors in Beauty and the Beast Jr. have been working hard to put on a good show. Various ages of students will be performing in the play.

“Chloe Jackson is one of our students, she will be playing Belle,” said Yankaskas, who added that Joe Lawton will be playing the Beast.

“They both have experience in drama and have taken their parts to heart. (They) both will be looking forward to their performances. We have kindergarten through high school students that perform in the play. Even our youngest students get to participate. They’ll be teacups and wolves.”

More than 400 people came to last year’s play, a figure that Yankaskas is happy about.

“Considering we’re such a small school and it was our first year in Hagerstown, we were very happy with the turnout,” she said. “We hope more people will come out to the performance. With the snowy winter we’ve been having, it’s very hard on the food banks. They’re in need.”

Yankaskas also stated as a reminder that anyone can go hungry.

“It can be a really moving experience being together in the theater with a common goal,” she said. “We will have a speaker from the Maryland Food Bank to talk about the need for getting help. One-in-9 people in Maryland go hungry. It’s a pressing need and it’s not like this is something that happens somewhere else, it happens in our own neighborhoods. We’re very grateful to be performing at The Maryland Theatre to fight hunger.”

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