From Thursday, Feburary 26 to Sunday, March 1, the school’s Eagle Theatre will become a whirlwind of colors, spinning dresses, dancing teacups and bursts of song. Students and performing arts teachers at the school are currently collaborating on a daily basis to rehearse the school musical, “Beauty and the Beast.”
Every other year, the Performing Arts Department selects a musical for students to perform, giving students a new experience outside of their regular arts training. This year, “Beauty and the Beast” was chosen for its popularity and level of difficulty.
“‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a great show with lots of challenges, but it’s not so challenging that it would be impossible,” Choral Department director Mark Shaull said. “We have very talented kids that will really be able to shine, and this musical is the appropriate stretch. It will allow them to grow as musicians and performers.”
Dance teacher and musical choreographer April Oliver also acknowledged that since “fundamentally different disciplines” must “come together” in this musical, it is an experience that is different and slightly harder than what the performing arts teachers usually do with their students.
“There is a lot of positive energy, great talent and exciting performances,” Oliver said. “It’s definitely a challenge, but it’ll be a great performance.”
Involvement in the musical requires certain amounts of time and effort. The directors of the musical, which include Shaull, Oliver, drama director Nancy Moran and instrumental director Ted Ferucci, get together to plan for the musical on a daily basis.
Students also have made time commitments. All participants practice about three hours every day after school, from 3:30 to around 6:30, up to seven hours on Saturdays and often during lunch.
According to senior Jessica Nicolet, who plays Belle in the musical, they will practice even more as the performance dates approach.
Practice is split up into four major groups: major roles, minor roles, the chorus and dancers. “Village roles” and “castle roles” also began by practicing separately, although full rehearsals with the entire cast and pit orchestra began Monday, January 19.
Over 100 students auditioned for roles in “Beauty and the Beast,” and the final cast was narrowed down to 55.
According to Shaull, usually about 70 students try out, so the auditions were more competitive than usual. Final selections were posted in early November, and the first cast meeting was held on Wednesday, November 5.
“It was exciting that more students tried out,” Shaull said. “It’s probably because ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a popular show; people know the music and the plot.”
According to Shaull, making final decisions in selecting the leading roles was “hard.”
The official lineup for the leading roles is as follows: for the male roles, sophomore Andrei Bratkovski plays the Beast, junior Sean Armstrong plays Gaston, senior Matt Rutledge plays the Prince, junior Charlie Bergevin plays Lumiere, junior Lucas Carosella plays LeFou, junior Sherwin Tavana plays Cogsworth, junior Noah DeMoss plays Maurice, senior Parker Spielman plays Monsieur D’Arque.
As for the female roles, Jessica plays Belle, senior Stefanie Von Gunten plays Mrs. Potts, sophomore Guanghui Wang plays Chip, senior Sarah Breslin plays Madame Grande La Bouche, senior Erica Best plays Babette, juniors Emma Carr, Amy Coop and Nicole Shorts play the Silly Girls and junior Nicole Schreiber plays the Enchantress.
“Not too many schools could do this show,” Shaull said. “You don’t just walk into this piece; it really requires some training.”
Students also agree that they have had to prepare extensively for the musical.
“Everyone came back from the break very prepared,” Jessica said. “Rehearsals are going really well and blocking is moving really quickly.”
Asides from the performance itself, a main focus of this year’s cast and crew will be in advertising, because the costs of this musical are also higher than in past years.
“We’re really going to be working hard at marketing,” Shaull said. “When you say Disney, you also say expensive, so we’ll really have to get out there.”
According to Shaull, Disney has expensive royalties, but costs also are up because the set, which they will be renting the set from the San Jose Children’s Musical Theater, is complex. The production crew needs professional help in setting it up.
He also mentioned that engineering the sound of such a musical requires a lot of technology in terms of managing the backstage, lighting and sound booth.
According to Oliver, while the “elaborate sets, costumes, the rights to perform and all the scripts and scores” cost money, “most of the money will be spent on the stage.”
To cover these costs and sell tickets more efficiently, a new electronic ticket registration system will be available through the PTSA so more families can reserve spots for the show.
Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults.
“Come and see it; it will be fantastic,” Oliver said. “This play is not one to miss; it‘s a family show for all ages.”