New Canaan High School Theatre's production of "Beauty and the Beast" played to record audiences for its four-show run a few weeks ago.

Among the many opportunities the program provided for the students was a special visit from actor/playwright Bill Nabel, who gave a talk to the students just a week before the show.

Nabel, a native of Stamford, can boast more than 9,000 performances in his more than 30 years working in Broadway shows. He was in the original Broadway cast of "A Chorus Line," "42nd Street" and many more.

For the students preparing for "Beauty and the Beast," his 13 years in the same show on Broadway was intriguing.

He is the only cast member to go from the start at the show's workshop and continue through the entire run in both the ensemble and eventually understudy for several roles including Lumiere and Cogsworth, two of the enchanted objects at the castle of the beast. The drama students were captivated by his stories from his unique perspective.

The NCHS Theatre cast, crew and orchestra of "Beauty and the Beast" still can look forward to seeing how their efforts pay off at the upcoming Halo Awards in Waterbury. Judges from the competition attended the show and the results will be revealed on May 28 at an awards ceremony.

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