(Posted March 9, 2017)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
A beastly, yet beautiful show is taking the stage at West Jefferson High School as student thespians ready their spring production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
With a three-prong approach—a breakfast with characters from the show on March 11, a one-night dinner theatre on March 16 and a three-day run of shows starting March 17—there are multiple opportunities to get up close and personal with Belle (played by senior Autumn Sammons), the Beast (junior Patrick Krischak), Gaston (junior Andrew Weber), and Mrs. Potts (senior Katie Stone), among others.
Bringing the show to life are 35 student cast members and 24 student crewmembers in grades 6-12. Parents are also involved with props and costumes, organizing the breakfast and dinner, selling tickets, feeding the cast and crew, playing in the orchestra and building sets.
“We have a fantastic team from the West Jefferson Music Boosters who are so helpful and supportive of our show,” said drama and choir director Rachel Herman.
“This show has many complex factors that have to weave together perfectly to create this magical story.”
Scenes and soloists weave in and out of each other with quick transitions. The costumes are elaborate and costly to rent, and the special effects of fog and creating a lighting storm are challenging.
“And last but not least, we have to get the beast to die, resurrect, and to transform into a human all in the same scene,” Herman said. “As a small school with a small budget, we have had to get really creative with how we can successfully pull these things off.”
Rehearsals began in December and kicked into full swing in January.
“Beauty and the Beast” was chosen as this spring’s production for a variety of reasons. According to Herman, a team of directors wanted a show that would get a large number of students excited about musical theater.
“This show rose to the top because so many people already know about this story, everybody loves Disney, and it’s also just a high quality show,” she said.
“We knew that we have a lot of talented kids, and we wanted to pick a show where as many kids as possible could get a role of any kind. There are lots of solo opportunities for students, big and small.”
Coincidentally, a live-action Disney remake of the animated movie is coming out the same weekend as the West Jefferson production, which Herman said helps build the excitement about the local production.
The musical closely follows the story line and feel of the original Disney movie, and Herman feels audiences will appreciate the grand story of sacrificial love and not judging by appearances.
Herman said West Jefferson’s stage was quiet for many years, until “Grease” was produced two years ago.
“Last year, I had the pleasure of directing ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ my first show at West Jefferson. I loved the experience last year, and this year it has only gotten better. We have a show in mind for next year, but we haven’t released it to the public yet.”
‘Beauty and the Beast’ Events and Showtimes
- Breakfast with the Characters—West Jefferson High School auditeria, March 11, 10-11:30 a.m.. Features Belle, the Beast, Mrs. Potts, Gaston, and other favorite characters, along with Mrs. Potts’ pancakes, Chip’s Coffee Cart (juice, milk), Gaston’s Sausage Stand, and a photo booth. Tickets are $6 for 12 and younger, and $8 for 13 and older ($30 max for families).
- Dinner Theatre—Catered by Ann & Tony’s, March 16, 6:30 p.m. Features a three-course meal with the choice of chicken parmesan, lasagna or vegetarian. The cost is $25, which includes the show. Tickets are available by pre-sale only at the high school office. Pre-pay cash or check made out to the West Jefferson Music Boosters.
- Regular Showtimes—March 17 at 7 p.m., March 18 at 7 p.m., and March 19 at 3:30 p.m. in the high school auditeria. Enchanted seating (prime view) tickets are $15; adult tickets are $10; students tickets are $5. For details, call (614) 879-7681, ext. 2300 or e-mail email@example.com.