Local actor cast in Broadway production

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

A nine-year-old Henry County youngster is traveling around the country this year, mixing fourth-grade lessons with nightly performances as part of the touring company of a popular Broadway show.

McDonough resident DeAndre Horner is currently cast in a Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. Special photo

DeAndre Horner was “insanely excited” when he got word last summer that he had been selected for the cast of “Beauty and the Beast,” based on the hit Disney animated film of the 1990s. Horner is one of two boys who alternate shows portraying Chip, the little teacup. They are the only two children in the cast.

Horner and his grandmother, Loletta Smith, spoke with the Times Friday by phone from Madison, Wisc., the most recent stop on the national tour. It was the 32nd city to host the production, and after Sunday’s final show the troupe was set to leave Monday for Louisville, Ky.

Smith travels with her grandson and directs his homeschool assignments each day as she has done since the tour began in September. It is scheduled to conclude in July.

Horner’s first theatrical performance came at five years of age with the Henry Players, portraying a baby spider in “The Never Ending Story.” He also participated with Camelot Theater in Griffin, the Front Porch Players in Jonesboro and Orbit Arts Academy in Sandy Springs.

Last spring he went to New York to audition for “Beauty and the Beast” as tryouts were conducted simultaneously for the national and international productions. The call came in July inviting him to be in the cast. This was his second New York audition; the first was for the Broadway production of “Matilda.”

Horner, who goes by D.J., excitedly rattled off a partial list of the cities he has visited during the tour so far - Boston, New Orleans and Seattle, to name a few.

But as exciting as the show has been and continues to be, Smith said he will be ready to stay home in McDonough with his mom, brother and sister for a while after the tour is over.

“He misses playing with friends,” she said. “That’s the hardest thing about being on the road. I think he’s just going to be a kid for a little bit.”