When Eric Sheaffer returns to his hometown Monday, hell bring along some 60 friends, including one who is a total beast.
Then again, another is a real beauty.
Sheaffer, 35, is among the musicians in the touring production of Disneys Beauty and the Beast, which returns to the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto for a two-night run Monday and Tuesday.
And, thanks to Sheaffer, members of the cast will invite the community to be their guests, if you will, at a fundraiser after Tuesdays performance. The after-show will benefit the nonprofit Stanislaus Arts Council. Sheaffers father, Chuck Sheaffer, is president of the council.
We dont do benefit performances very often, Eric Sheaffer said in an email interview. The last one we did was in Baltimore about a year and a half ago. It was to benefit one of our former cast members who became very ill. We did do a benefit in Modesto the last time our show was there and we had a blast.
Tuesdays An Hour of Entertainment by the Cast of Beauty and the Beast will be similar to that 2010 benefit.
Sheaffer has been a cellist in the orchestra since February 2010. The touring show is based on the award-winning Broadway musical, which itself is based on Disneys blockbuster animated film. The production was put together by the creators of the Broadway show, including the director, choreographer and costume, lighting and scenic design teams.
I am in awe of the very talented people that I get a chance to work with, Sheaffer said of the touring cast and crew.
Our touring season usually runs September-June. There isnt a lot of time off during the season, he said. When not on the road, Sheaffer lives in Chicago, where he was principal cellist in the New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago and played in its New Millennium String Quartet.
His other credits include playing in professional orchestras and performing with Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco, he said.
Fans of Beauty and the Beast will recognize all of their favorite songs, as well as some original numbers by Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken, who also scored the film.
The after-show benefit will feature fresh selections, Chuck Sheaffer said. The fundraiser will help the Stanislaus Arts Council re-establish its Stanislaus Teacher Arts Resource program, which sends musicians into classrooms to teach music.
The STAR program focuses on first through third grades. The elder Sheaffer said the program stopped when the group lost its funding in 2012 and closed its office. Now, the council operates on an all-volunteer basis with no office while the board attempts to reboot its efforts.
There also will be a silent auction to benefit the arts council before Tuesdays performance, during intermission and before the Hour of Entertainment show.
A ticket to Beauty and the Beast is not required to attend the fundraiser; it is open to the general public. Fundraiser tickets can be purchased by calling Chuck Sheaffer at (209) 765-1214 or purchased before the show in the Gallo Center lobby.
Eric Sheaffer said that the cast and orchestra still were working on the numbers for the after-show, but he promised a wide variety of different styles and groups.
Eric Sheaffer graduated from Beyer High School in 1997, where he played cello in the orchestra for four years. Hes been playing music since he was 2, when his parents started him on violin, he said; he changed to cello when he was 3. It was while playing at Beyer that the cello became very important to me, he said.
He cited his musical education in Modesto as a reason for organizing the fundraiser.
I feel its important to give back to the Modesto community as much as I can, he said. I wouldnt be in the place that I am in today if it wasnt for all of the support and education I have received from my former music teachers there.
Bee staff writer Pat Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.