Review: WHSTE’s Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Sammy Keating

WSPN's width=
WSPN's Sammy Keating reviews this year's spring musical, Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Disney movies are a special thing in their own right. I would say they are the most important movies to most kids during their childhoods. I know they were to me. This love affair with Disney movies and their subsequent musicals is often carried from our childhood to our teenage years, so it comes as no surprise that WHSTE chose this year’s spring musical to be “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”

For those of you who have been living under a rock for your entire lives, “Beauty and the Beast” is a story about a beautiful girl who falls in love with a beast. (Shocking, I know.) The traditional French fairy tale was first transcribed by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740, and since then, the story has been quite popular in pop culture.

This musical is an adaptation of Disney’s 1991 movie version of the story, which first ran on Broadway in 1994. Although I have never seen the show on Broadway (it ended its run in 2007), I have seen the movie version multiple times and was ecstatic to see how faithful WHSTE stayed to the original movie, and, I assume, the musical.

One of the most impressive parts of the production was the detailed set design used for all of the scenes. Most of the time, a production will simply use one backdrop for the entirety of the show; however, this production used multiple backdrops to show exactly where each scene was taking place, whether it was the town, woods or castle. The best part of the set design was the image of the Beast’s magic rose, which began to wilt as the show progressed. It was unexpected and a wonderfully creative addition.

Now, onto the actors. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it to opening night, so this review will be of cast A’s performances (yes, there are two casts). The largest difference between casts A and B is the role of the protagonist, Belle. In cast A, Belle is played by junior Tori Gitten, and in cast B, she is played by senior Maddie Conroy.

While Gitten’s acting was well done, the places where she really shined were her solos in songs like “A Change In Me” and “Home.” Gitten has an opera background, one that she has shown at previous WHS events, and this is evident in her singing.

On the other hand, the beast to her beauty, senior Isaac Greenawalt, found the most success in his acting. Greenawalt brought certain awkward qualities to the character of the Beast that I had never seen before. It was sweet to see the Beast adorably squirm as he tried to impress Belle with his newly found manners. However, animal-like qualities were used as well. I was definitely not expecting all of the growling and crawling. It was a unique take on the well known character, and I applaud his full use of the stage throughout the show.

The third main character of the play, the pretentious Gaston, was played by the always energetic senior, Liam Fay. I’ve known Fay since I was five years old, and he has always possessed a never-ending supply of enthusiasm. This energy allowed him to be the perfect fit for the character of Gaston, while bringing a new humorous side to the villainous character.

Other highlights included sophomore Jackson Dianni as Cogsworth the enchanted clock, senior Erika Moran as Babette the enchanted feather duster and freshman Jessica DeMasi as Chip the enchanted teacup.

Overall, I was impressed by how well each role was cast and how each actor was able to show off his or her talents within each role. Some examples include Gitten’s singing, Fay’s energy and humor and Moran’s dance skills.

One thing I was disappointed with was the audio for the show. Although the microphones for the main characters were almost always on, it was sometimes difficult to hear lines from the supporting cast because their microphones simply weren’t turned on.

I would finally like to draw attention to one of the most unique parts of the production: the live pit band. The live music made the scenes more powerful and added to the quality of the show.

In my opinion, this was the best WHSTE musical since 2011’s production of “Les Miserables.” Let me be clear, I’m not giving these compliments as a courtesy; if I didn’t like the show I would say so. Trust me, this show is worth your money. The acting, choreography and music all came together to create a wonderful fairy tale. Make sure to get your ticket to one of the last two shows this weekend so you can experience the magic.