Isabelle Hoofnagle was born to play Belle, according to Director Stephen Arment.

From Wednesday to Friday, April 27-29, the Durant High School Theatre Company will perform Disney’s Beauty and the Beast directed by acting teacher Stephen Arment. The spring musical will be produced by a cast of over 30 talented, young actors and a tech crew.

Belle and the Beast will be played by senior Isabelle Hoofnagle and junior Austin White, respectively, and will be joined by senior Jackson Hamilton playing Gaston. 

“Everybody has heard of [Beauty and the Beast] and when you are going into a show that is so well known, the challenge becomes dealing with the fact that everyone is going to think of the Disney movie, and that’s the standard in which all theater productions are going to be compared,” said Arment.

Arment admitted producing a more ambitious and complex play has been challenging, and he is looking for ways to meet the expectations of the audience while incorporating his personal directing style.

This year’s auditions were different for Arment as he typically has an idea of which roles he will assign to each actor but had a limited plan for how he wanted to cast the 2022 spring musical. He primarily trusted the cast’s assessment of their own skills and selected the roles based on the characters for which they auditioned.

“I really didn’t go into it with any preconceived casting ideas this time. Hoofnagle is our Belle. She just seems like she was born to play that role. It just works. As soon as she sang for the role, I was like ‘That one is done,’” said Arment.

Picking Hamilton as Gaston was a surprise since Hamilton has played the Beast in the past. However, Hamilton wanted the opportunity to play a villain role and proved to Arment that he was perfect for Gaston.

“He reads for Gaston,” explained Arment about Hamilton’s audition, “and you realize he is Gaston walking around in human form.”

The cast has been rehearsing since the beginning of February and has been working closely with Durant’s music teacher, Yasmani Gonzalez.

To buy tickets to Durant’s production of Beauty and the Beast at the end of April, visit

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Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.