SMAHS to present classic 'Beauty and the Beast'

The cast and crew of the St. Marys Area High School's musical, "Beauty and the Beast," are putting the finishing touches on a "tale as old as time." The first performance will take place on Thursday evening at 7 p.m.Additional show times of the Disney production are scheduled for Friday and Saturday evening, also at 7 p.m, inside the high school's Carpin Auditorium. A special Saturday matinee is being held at 2 p.m., where any child under the age of 12 dressing as a Disney character will receive half off their ticket cost. The classic fairy tale tells of an enchantress who turns a cruel, unfeeling prince into a beast. In order for the prince to break the spell, he must learn to love in return before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose. Belle, a brainy and beautiful young woman, becomes a captive of the Beast. At the time of her capture, Belle yearned to escape the advances of her suitor, Gaston. Belle opens the Beast's heart with her love and he is eventually transformed back into a human. As the story goes, everyone lives happily ever after. "We wanted to take on a bigger project this year, something the community knows," said Ann Defilippi, sound director/choreographer. "We have the students to fill the roles and this production allows us the opportunity to play around with costumes, stage design and lighting."There are a total of 46 junior high and high school cast members and 26 elementary school-age cast members who play teacups and wolves.Among the leading student cast members are Joe Blum as the Beast, Natalie Schwer as Belle, Cassie Williams as teakettle Mrs. Potts, Sam Atwell as Lumiere the candlestick, Brent Bartlett as Cogsworth the clock, Dmitri Deyev as the villainous Gaston and Ben Vollmer as Chip, a young teacup and Mrs. Potts' son.A majority of the lead characters' costumes were rented from The Costumer. Defilippi added that Beth Lenaway has been a big helping hand as the costume manager. "Many of the other costumes, such as the utensils and Chip's cart, we created ourselves," Defilippi said.This year's musical production is under the direction of Chris Gankosky, high school band director. Adam Brooks is the vocal director, Matthew Frank is the lighting designer and acting coach and Meghan Scott is the production stage manager. All of the staff are faculty members at the high school.Additional production staff consists of Jessica Bedaux as spotlight operator and stage crew members Tyler Shields, Allison McCurdy, Amanda Schaberl, Rachel Ehrensberger and Nathan Hansen.A 12-member orchestra, under the direction of Gankosky, enhances the production and consists of Amy Sines on piano, Paul Fehrenbach and Lena Gavazzi on violins, Nancy Arnold on flute and piccolo, Brian Simpson on oboe, Liz Dollinger on clarinet, Adam Brooks on trumpet, Daniel Sensenig on French horn, Don Trenn on trombone, Jake Reed on brass, Tiffany Gump on percussion and Amerigo Allegretto, drum set. The production has a running time of just over two hours with a 15-minute intermission between the two acts.