Shaler Area presents ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Shaler Area High School is presenting “a tale as old as time” during its musical “Beauty and the Beast” March 1 through 3, and 8 and 9.
The 1994 Broadway musical is based on the 1991 Walt Disney Pictures animated classic.
Shaler Area students will tell the story of a prince (junior Alex Almonte), who is transformed into a beast as punishment for his selfishness. To reverse the spell, the Beast must learn to love Belle (senior Natalie Carey), a young woman he imprisons in his castle. The story is complicated when Gaston (senior Dan Horgan) becomes infuriated by Belle’s continued rejection and forms a mob to storm the castle.
The cast also includes many of the film’s favorites, including Lumiere (junior Michael Bly), Cogsworth (junior Bella James), Mrs. Potts (senior Taryn Nasiadka), and Chip (sophomore Alyssa Lorenz).
The experience of playing Belle is fairytale-like for Carey who was an ensemble member in her school’s 2018 production of “Anything Goes.”
“Oh, this is one of my favorites. It’s a dream role for me for sure,” the 17-year-old said, noting that she has watched many productions of the musical on YouTube.
Carey describes her character as complex, caring, headstrong and intelligent.
“More than anything, she loves her father, so that is what is always in the back of her mind. She’s a crazy character to play. Every scene I could play it 20 different ways, but I am trying to find the best way to do it for her,” said Carey of Shaler.
I want to make sure that I play her well and just leave those kids in the audience being like, ‘That was Belle,’ not like, ‘That was a random high school girl playing Belle.’”
Horgan, 18, of Shaler said portraying Gaston is a step outside his comfort zone, which he enjoys. This is his first musical role; he performed as the Caterpillar in Shaler Area’s “Alice in Wonderland” play.
He had previously performed during the school’s theatrical productions as part of the pit orchestra. He was inspired to audition for the cast after taking a high school drama class with Kristen Susany, who serves as the show’s assistant director with director and fellow teacher Kristin Tepshich.
He considers it challenging to maintain his “intimidating character” whose personality differs from his own.
Similarly, Almonte, 16, of Shaler, said that he has put a lot of thought into developing the Beast’s anger and internal conflict.
“I have to wear a big backpack, so I’m hunched over all the time and that just kind of helps you get in the mood. And I just personally to get in the mood just pretend that I am really mad at one of my friends and start yelling,” he said.
Susany said that Kari Simonetti, costume director, and Jeanne Marshall, set designer, use “a lot of magic” to bring this show to life.
Costume construction is proving challenging for Cogsworth, a grandfather clock; Lumiere, a candlestick; Chip, a teacup; and Mrs. Potts, a teapot, Simonetti said.
“I love working three-dimensionally. It’s just figuring out how much cardboard, how much foam I want to use.”
Volunteer Maggie Aluise is assisting with costumes; junior Destiny Morgano is handling makeup.
“I have a good bunch of kids and if I can get them as freshmen I’m very excited because that’s three years (of help),” Simonetti said.
“It’s just amazing to see how hard everyone’s worked and how dedicated everyone’s been to put the show together,” Almonte said.