Pope John Paul II High School’s Studio 38 Drama Department has become renowned in the area for putting on class-act spring musicals.
Their 2013 performance of Disney Beauty and the Beast easily continues the tradition, with exquisite costumes (courtesy of a squadron of costume moms), beautiful and complicated sets (courtesy of four set designers and a team of builders), gorgeous music (courtesy of musical director/conductor Eleanor Bono Griffin and a 16-member orchestra), and a cast and crew of 200 students (yes, you read that correctly).
Director/choreographer Marusia Griffin Lynn has assembled a very talented group of students, young children, and adults to be a part of her latest endeavor.
What makes PJPII productions different from many of the rest is their attention to both little and big details (witness the gorgeous “stained-glass” window, the confetti popping during “Be Our Guest," and Belle’s father’s contraption). They also wisely get the many young children who attend involved by selling light-up flowers. This creates a truly enchanting scene when they all turn them on in the dark during Beast’s transformation.
Because so many students audition for the musical and Lynn wants to get as many involved as possible, PJPII double casts most of their leading and supporting roles. The blue and the gold cast alternate nights, and when they are not performing a speaking role, they act in the ensemble. When I name the major players below, the first name listed is who I saw on opening night.
For those not familiar with the story, Beast (Tyler Costello, Jeffrey Chernesky) was once a handsome young man but is doomed to looking like a monster because of the Enchantress’s (Sophia Burghardt, Liza Marie Levy) spell. He lives in a castle with his staff, Mrs. Potts (Molly Davis, Maryrose Santangelo), Lumiere (Rohan Basuthakur, Brandon Commo), Cogsworth (Bobby Lewis, Zachary Washko), Babette (Rosanella Badalamenti, Franshesca Janvier), Wardrobe (Angela Martelli, Krista Tatasciore), and Chip (Giacomo Badalamenti, Adam Pasquale), all of whom wish to be human again.
In order for the spell to be broken, Beast must fall in love with a girl; lo and behold, Belle (Jacqueline Smith, Mia Borrelli) shows up at the castle looking for her father, Maurice (Brian Bruno, Michael David Brent).
Beast is keeping Maurice prisoner, so Belle offers to exchange herself for her father. Narcissitic Gaston (Brian McCluskey, Brad Dalton) wants to marry Belle and, along with his crony Lefou (Adam Bensinger, Joe Ciccone, Jack Harty), tries to save her from the Beast’s grasp. Even though Belle despises Gaston, does she really want to be saved? Is Beast’s spell destined to remain forever?
If you’re looking for entertainment that the entire family can enjoy, look no further than this production of Disney Beauty and the Beast! Performances continue on March 9, 10, 14, 15, and 16. For tickets, visit the school’s website at http://www.pjphs.org or call 484-975-6500 for more information.