Theatre company invites students to ‘be our guest’

School production of Beauty and the Beast to premiere Thursday

Photo Credit: John Scialdone
Blythe Owen (Belle), Jack Whyte (Lumiere), Maddie Basirico (Babette), Annie Burke (Wardrobe), and Abby Koenig lead the ensemble in a dance number.

by Julie Singh, Staff Writer

The musical production of Beauty and the Beast is quickly approaching, and the entire cast has been putting in its final efforts before taking the stage this Thursday.

As the auditions were in November, the group immediately began practicing for the production. They practiced and rehearsed for countless hours, and the high school’s performance of Beauty and the Beast will take the stage on the night of Feb. 12.

According to Carl Helder, Vocal Director and choir teacher, the show will be held on Thursday (Feb. 12), Friday (Feb. 13) and Saturday (Feb. 14).  Each showing begins “promptly” at 7 p.m.  The Saturday showing coincides with Valentine’s Day.

Beauty and the Beast has drama, comedy, romance, and we have some magical moments in store for our audience.  Dinner and a show, it’s the perfect date night,” Helder said.

Tickets were sold after school from Feb. 4 to 6 after school from 2:45 to 4, and will continue to be sold during the evening until Feb. 9, from 7 to 8:30, and during lunch from Feb. 9 to 11 from 10:30 to 12. All tickets are sold in the Hamilton Lobby.

The student price for a ticket is $10 and an adult ticket is $15. There is a free preview open to senior citizens on Feb. 12 at 1 p.m.

With little under a week until the show is performed, the cast and crew work daily after school to rehearse and prepare for opening day.

“Musical theatre really is a group and team effort.  It requires so many people of different skills and abilities to come together and create something special,” Helder said.

The cast is like a family.”

— Bennie Fontana, junior

Many students are eager to see the upcoming performance. “I’ve seen the movie Beauty and the Beast when I was younger and I saw it on Broadway so I’m eager to see how it will compare to the Glen Rock High School version,” Olivia Grubb, sophomore, said.

The cast consists of approximately seventy people who all contribute different skills and abilities. The cast is comprised of actors, singers, dancers, stage crew, artists, lighting, sound, costumes, makeup and musicians.

“The cast is like a family. I have met most of my closest friends through the theatre productions at Glen Rock High School because we all spend so much time together,” said Bennie Fontana, junior, who is an actress in Beauty and the Beast.

The cast includes other necessary staff members, such as Christopher Barker as Director, Carl Helder as Vocal Director, Grace Ann Pisani as the choreographer, Jeff Kurland as the Pit Orchestra Conductor, Juliet McKinley as the Stage Manager, James Warren for AV, Timothy Mountain as Assistant Director, and Kyle O’Connell and Dylan Kennedy as Assistant Stage Managers.

The cast rehearses for around three hours a day to practice their roles.

I think it’s going to be a great show and I look forward to seeing my friends and classmates’ hard work pay off after months of practice.”

— Julian Bennett, junior

“Being in the show is so demanding and we put so many hours in that we become very close,” Fontana said. “We are all trying super hard to make this show the best it can be.”

Students who intend to see the show believe that the cast and crews’ preparation will pay off.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Beauty and the Beast this weekend. I think it’s going to be a great show and I look forward to seeing my friends and classmates’ hard work pay off after months of practice,” junior Julian Bennett said.

Fontana, an avid theatre member, has been involved in productions since her freshman year.

For Fontana, there is one specific number that she’s excited for. “My favorite part in the show is ‘Be Our Guest’ because it is the biggest and flashiest number in the show. I enjoy doing it so much and I think audiences are going to love it,” she said.

Beauty and the Beast features two lead roles: Belle and the Beast. The beast is played by senior David Merkle; Belle is played by senior Blythe Owen.

Director Christopher Barker continues directing following his first comedic production, The Drowsy Chaperone.

Helder and Barker came to choose Beauty and the Beast when the two “were looking for something very well-known and fun for the whole family.”

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was a smash hit on Broadway and London’s West End winning awards for Best New Musical and Costume Design. The music from the show has won many awards included a Grammy,” Helder said.

This year’s production will be different from those of the past. The cast plans on bringing surprises to the stage, with special moments in store for the audience.

“I think it is different than shows we have usually done, and it is very demanding and is going to be very magical to watch,” Fontana said.

Everything performed each night will be live. The audience members can look forward to a live orchestra accompanied by violinist Agatha Blevin that will accompany the actors and actresses.

“Beauty and the Beast is a magical show and we intend to carry our audience away from their everyday lives, if only for a little while,” Helder said. “Expect a Broadway experience right here in Glen Rock High School.”