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‘Beauty and the Beast’ to be WHS theatre company’s biggest musical production

  • Written by Kirsten Abel, Features Writer

With 61 actors, 19 band members, and at least 15 students in the crew, Woodinville High School’s spring musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” is its most substantial production yet.

The show, which will run six performances starting on April 27, includes over 20 set changes and hundreds of costumes that, with the exception of a few hoop skirts, were made entirely in-house.

DanceThe musical’s cast participates in a “costume parade” to test out the design and movement of the costumes.The students involved in the show have been painting, building set pieces and creating costumes as well as rehearsing.

“Basically, it takes a village,” said Mason Cole, Woodinville’s choir director and the music director of the show.

One of the tweaks Woodinville is making to its version of “Beauty and the Beast” is in designing costumes that are much more representative. Instead of dressing up as a napkin, for example, some actors will wear tutus adorned in napkins. Others will don fork-encrusted suit jackets or masks covered in spoons.

Poster portraitThe musical also pushes boundaries with its dance numbers. The wolf chase scenes will be especially abstract and physical, said Eva Sullivan, a senior who plays several roles, including a wolf and one of the “silly girls.”

In order to prepare for the wolf chases, the show’s director and producer, Josh Butchart, asked the dancers to watch online videos of wolves to help them understand how the animals move.

“It’s not just dancing. We’re blocking. We’re fighting,” Sullivan said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s very exhausting.”

Aside from all the singing, acting and dancing practice, many of the actors must also implement specific accents into their roles. 

Benjamin Hall, a senior who plays Cogsworth, and Meghan Johnson, a senior who plays Mrs. Potts, are both working on British accents. Kira Fontana, a junior who plays Babbette the feather duster, and Aidan Gertz, a senior who plays Lumière, are learning French accents.

“I took three years of French specifically to prepare for this role,” Gertz joked.
The title roles of the show are played by sophomore Mesgana Yosief (Belle) and junior Joshua Eagle (the Beast).

Yosief said she likes how “not Disney” her character is. “She’s young, but she’s so independent and she’s tough,” she said. “She doesn’t go with the flow. She knows what she wants and she goes for it.”

Eagle said he also relates to his character’s fumbling, charmingly unromantic qualities. “I’m not very good with women,” he said with a smile.

Several students in the production are taking on bigger roles in this musical than they have before.

Max Tammen, a senior who plays Gaston, will perform his first ever solo in a musical. The song is called “Me.” “It’s all about how I love to share with others how great I am,” he said, in character.

Johnson will also sing her first solo, the show’s title track. “I’m scared but I’m also really honored and excited,” she said.

Rehearsal time before the first show spans about ten weeks. Because of that short timeframe, the students are asked to devote much of their free time to practicing their roles.

“I’m very impressed by how much ownership these students take over the material,” Cole said.

The students’ dedication to their roles also translates to a dedication to one another. They spend time together at rehearsals and many of them also share classes for choir or band.

“We see each other so much and it just works,” said Eagle.

Yosief, who recently moved to the area from outside the state, said that the group had basically adopted her. “You just walk in here and you just feel so much love,” she said.
Woodinville’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” is a family-friendly show with all the familiar elements. Comparisons to the recently released live action movie, however, will be rejected outright.

“Ours is better,” said Jacob Kishline, a senior who plays Belle’s father, Maurice.
The musical will run for two weekends, April 27-29 and May 4-6. Tickets can be purchased online at whstc.org.

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