The middle school’s spring musical, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” entranced young and old with simple but evocative sets, colorful and active crowd scenes and superlative performances by leading actors.
There were three showings, plus shows for students during school time, and two casts, so special kudos go to Monica Colletti and Roxann Hagemeyer, the director and musical director, for the stellar performance of both groups!
Dinner was available before each of the evening shows and the Saturday matinee show was a special family event where children dressed as a prince or princess and met cast members in costume.
The story was introduced by players speaking to the audience. Then, the curtain opened to the vivid, active panorama of the village square, where we are introduced to Belle, the beauty, played by Apoorva Rangan and Rasika Raghavan, both grade 8, a quirky young woman and the only one in the village with the perspicacity –and motivation– to tame the Beast/Prince, played by Jeton Gutierrez-Bujari and Glenn Reddy, both grade 8. About 50 middle schoolers were in the cast, with more working as stage hands and in other technical positions.
Highlights included very fast set changes with the curtain open, displaying the clever arrangement that kept the continuity of the play intact. The village backdrop was simple, leaving center stage as the action focus; the interior of the Beast’s castle had simple risers that played into the plot, but again, kept the action center stage.
Characters were fun! The hunter, Gaston, played by Ryan Pachauri, grade 8, was a swaggering braggart, and his side kick Lefou, played by Sid Krishnamurthi and Agata Sorotokin, both grade 8, was by turns insouciant and ingratiating. Other characters brought the drama alive, including Lumiere, played by Ishanya Anthapur and Maya Nandakumar, both grade 8, whose inspired delivery and lively movement captivated the audience.
Costuming was thorough and fun, with Belle in a lovely dress, the prince in velvet and a shaggy mask, and market folk in peasant dress.
Crowd scenes were especially energizing, with opposing rows of players singing and moving back and forth across the stage to create symmetrical movement, while the chaotic raid by the villagers delighted young audience members with its frenzied search for the Beast/Prince.
“I am constantly amazed at the depth of talent that exists within this community amongst students, faculty and staff,” said Cindy Ellis, middle school head. “A special thank you to Monica Colletti and Roxann Hagemeyer, our phenomenal directors, and to Paul Vallerga and Brian Larsen, our magical tech and set managers. I know there are untold hours that go in to such a lavish production!”