A corporate trainer for Not Your Average Joe’s restaurants by day, Mr. Bento grew up in Swansea and participated in theater through high school. The Bristol Theater Company was his summer “home theater” for four or five seasons before he moved to New York, then Georgia, for a number of years. Returning to the area a couple of years ago, Mr. Bento saw that the company was looking for a director for their production of “A Christmas Carol.” He jumped on board and hasn’t looked back. “There are 60 young actors from all across the East Bay in this production, and they have all worked really hard,” he said. “They have learned so much about theater, and expectations of them as part of this cast. The best thing that we, as a community, can do is support these young actors.”
These young actors echo their director’s enthusiasm. “This my sixth show with the Bristol Theatre Company and I have enjoyed each and every one of them,” said Bristol’s Ellie Knapman. “I have learned new things with each production and definitely have become a better actress because of it. I love acting but….also the people. Their sense of humor and helpful advice make it a great experience and and I am so happy to be a part of it.”
Emily Ashton Meredith of Barrington, who is starring as Belle, is “beyond happy to have had this wonderful opportunity.” She says that she “feels so lucky to work with such talented people including Richard Bento, the fearless leader and director of this production, and the children in the cast who come to each rehearsal with such enthusiasm and boundless positive energy.”
Tyler DaPonte of Warren, who plays the Beast, says that “working with the Bristol Theater Company has been an awesome experience,” and he feels “so lucky to be working with such talented people. The Beast is a complex and challenging role and (I) look forward to sharing it with an audience.”
According to Mr. Bento, The Bristol Theatre Company, once a seasonal, one-production company, is gradually being built int a year-round entity with several shows each season. “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” will be performed at Mt. Hope High School this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, August 1-3, at 7 p.m. In addition, two matinee performances will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 4 and 4, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door, and cost $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.