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Elizabeth Forward students' efforts make sure the show goes on

| Monday, April 8, 2013, 9:28 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Zachary Beneoek, who plays Chip in Elizabeth Forward High School’s production of “Beauty and the Beast,” gets situated on stage for rehearsal on Monday, April 8, 2013. When the cast and crew discovered they needed new rigging, they organized a pancake breakfast for the community on Sunday and raised nearly $1,400.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Shelby Ruschak who plays Belle in Elizabeth Forward High School's production of 'Beauty and the Beast,' prepares for rehearsal on Monday, April 8, 2013. When the cast and crew discovered they needed new rigging, they organized a pancake breakfast for the community on Sunday and raised nearly $1,400.

When students at Elizabeth Forward High School worried that the school wouldn't have the money to put on their spring musical, they didn't despair.

They sprang in to action.

The cast and crew of “Beauty and the Beast” raised $1,400 by holding a pancake breakfast Sunday for the community.

“We're amazed that we came up with that much money,” said James Benedek, 18, of Boston, who came up with the fundraiser and plays Lumiere, the candelabra with a French accent.

The first show for the public is scheduled Thursday, but the students learned just days ago that the school's old stage rigging needed a $1,600 update to accommodate the production.

Teacher Justin Turpin, 31, of Irwin — one of two directors — said the school's budget for the musical could have paid for the work, but the students' initiative impressed him.

“This was a hiccup,” he said. “But the breakfast was a great thing for the community.”

The extra money and other fundraisers that include a Chinese auction will go toward other productions.

“When we found out that there were some major complications with the backdrops, everyone became extremely worried that the show would be ruined,” said Mattie Winowitch, 15, of Stoneybrook, who plays Mrs. Potts, a tea kettle. “Finding out that the show would, in fact, go on was a giant breath of relief.”

The stage rigging problem arose because the pulleys that allow backdrops to be changed quickly didn't extend high enough for the backdrops purchased for Beauty and the Beast.

The rigging will be repaired Tuesday, one day before the first performance for elementary students.

Parents and students were surprised at the amount of money they raised. The pancake breakfast served 500 people.

“They did a great job,” said Tracy Casturo of Boston, whose son, Matt, is a stage manager.

The show runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the curtain opening at 7 p.m. A 2 p.m. matinee is Saturday.

Students promise the show will be worth the $10 ticket. The school rented “gorgeous costumes that almost look fitting for Broadway,” Winowitch said.

“It is going to be an absolutely spectacular show,” she said.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

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