Friday, January 25, 2002

Jill Hayman

Rocky River High grade to appear in 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST'

When Disney’s 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' makes its joyous return to Playhouse Square’s Allen Theatre in early February, Rocky River High School alum Jill Hayman will be returning home for the first time in many years. In a recent interview with the 1975 RRHS grad she revealed that she is looking forward to returning to a city which, when she was growing up, had the reputation of being “the mistake on the lake.” She said, “People come home as adults and often everything seems small and shabbier. Coming home to Cleveland, however, gives me pride and a feeling of being awestruck by what Cleveland has done with itself in the last 25 years.” It’s great to see a marvelous town which is full of pride.” She went on to say, in spite of her now being a landed immigrant in Canada, she still cheers for the Indians, and is “proud to be a Clevelander.”

Jill’s Cleveland theatre connections run deep. She appeared at Huntington Theatre, playing the lead in 'FINIAN’S RAINBOW,' Greenbrier (now Cassidy Theatre) in 'GUYS AND DOLLS,' Carousel Dinner Theatre, Kenley Players and was even a regular on the long-running Sunday morning 'GENE CARROLL’S AMATEUR HOUR.'

Right out of high school she worked at Halle’s Department Store selling panty hose and three nights a week she served as singer-guitarist at Don’s Lighthouse. This was followed by two seasons at the Cleveland Play House.

She moved on to New York. In her first tryout she was offered a role in a production at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival, so back to Cleveland she came.

She fondly remembers Bill Allman, the Managing Director of Berea Summer Theatre, who she feels did so much for helping her theatrical career.

Her connection with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST started in 1995. She was cast in the touring production and performed for four and-a-half months. She has been on the present tour for about five months.

How will you find Jill on stage? Generally you look for the Egg timer. She sometimes plays the Wardrobe. On February 14 she will meet and greet her family and friends while playing the major role of Mr. Potts.

As Jill said with a giggle in her voice, “I haven’t always been the Egg Timer. At one point I portrayed the Sugar Bowl.” This enactment led to one of her most embarrassing moments on stage. She recounted, “I was making my entrance during the song ‘Be My Guest.’ The costume weighed 30-pounds. I was on top of a 20-foot staircase, started coming down, turned my ankle and fell to the stage. I hit the floor, my wig and hat came off, I landed in the middle of the dancers, continued to sing while lying on the floor, was hoisted up by another cast member and finished the number.” The next edition of the Disney newspaper contained a story about the mishap with the headline, “Sugar Bowl Not Broken.”

Jill’s future? She will continue with the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST tour until August. She then plans to go back to one of her passions...traveling. She will do her solo act on cruise ships. She has travelled most of her adult life and the thought of getting paid while she gets the opportunity to perform is, as she puts it, “a good thing.” Until then she will continue with her one-week stops as the show wends its way across the USA. As she indicated, “It’s a nice way to go. Disney takes very good care of us.”

She encourages all her Cleveland friends to see this production, even if they’ve seen past editions. She proudly says, “they have done some restaging and I’m impressed with the changes.”

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the classic love story of Belle, a young woman in a small mythical town, and the Beast, who really is a prince trapped, by a spell, in the ugly body.