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ON-STAGE PHOTOS COURTESY OF JEFF MASON/WEBER PHOTOGRAPHICS Brenden McNeil surprises girlfriend Kaley McLean with a marriage proposal during a recent production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in Sanford. Beauty -ful A by Jill Duff-Hoppes W hile playing the role of Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Kaley McLean found herself living out a real-life fairy tale. Her boyfriend, Brenden McNeil, surprised Kaley with a marriage proposal on stage during a recent performance of the musical at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in Sanford. With help from the theater, Brenden had arranged to fill in as the Prince in the show’s final scene. But keeping his romantic plan a Proposal secret from Kaley required quick thinking and fancy footwork. The script calls for the Prince to sing and waltz with Belle, so Brenden got a crash course in musical theater from director Barb Kellar. They rehearsed his part separately from the rest of the cast. Brenden also received tutoring from an unsuspecting Kaley, who wanted to practice her waltzing scenes. Because Brenden needed to learn the dance, he seized a golden opportunity. “I’ll practice with you,” Brenden eagerly offered to his fiancée-to- be. “Teach me.” Brenden’s plan, which had been in the works for weeks, came to fruition at the October 2 performance. Wearing the Prince’s costume, Brenden got down on one knee, opened a red box to reveal the engagement ring, and asked Kaley to marry him. A stunned and trembling Kaley managed to say yes through her laughter and tears. The adorable couple embraced and shared a long kiss, and the packed theater erupted in cheers and applause. Nobody was cheering louder than Kaley’s parents, Mike and Lisa McLean, who had been in on the big secret. Brenden is confident that Kaley wasn’t using her acting skills to appear shocked when he popped the question. The couple, who graduated from Lake Mary High in 2011, have dated for more than five years. “I know her very well. She had no idea,” Brenden says, adding that after he proposed, Kaley remarked, “So that’s why you’ve been so quiet lately!” Brandy Foster and her son Brenden McNeil, with Kaley McLean and her parents Mike and Lisa 52 | Lake Mary Life • November/December 2016