Published in the December 7, 2017 edition

THE CAST of Beauty and Beast takes a well-deserved bow following a performance of the classic fairy tale. The Masquers’ production features all the wonder of a full scale Broadway musical, from a revolving set and stunning costumes to pitch-perfect singing and flawless dancing. (Mary Lasdin Photo)


NORTH READING — North Reading High School presented an enchanting version of the Broadway musical “Beauty and the Beast” last weekend at the Daniel Shay Performing Arts Center.

The musical was full of familiar melodies skillfully performed by the cast. “Beauty and the Beast” also featured stunning visuals, beautiful costumes and revolving set pieces. The cast and crew pulled it all off flawlessly. 

The cast includes townspeople and local children who portrayed dancing wolves, silverware, gargoyles, plate dancers, corkscrews, Russian dancers and tap dancing napkins. There is a lot of dancing complete with tankard choreography that featured kick lines inspired by The Rockettes.

THE SENIORS cast in featured roles of “Beauty and the Beast” ham it up at the Beast Brunch meet and greet. From left: Sam Barrette as the Beast, Maddy Alter as Belle, Michelle Shang as Mrs. Potts and Owen DeCleene as Gaston. (Mary Lasdin Photo)

The show begins with a pantomime ballet depicting how a selfish prince became the beast.

An early scene in the Village Center is where we first meet Belle, played by Maddy Alter. Alter’s Belle sang beautifully throughout the performance. Belle is the strong-willed young woman hoping to escape her daily routine and find adventure somewhere. 

We then get introduced to all the characters we have all come to know and love.  The staging of the song “Gaston” by Preston Lydotes as Lefou, and Owen DeCleene’s Gaston along with the supporting cast was both comical and rousing.  The rendition of “Be Our Guest,” although not the first act finale, is a wonderful production number sung by the ensemble led by Sam Giunta as Lumiere. 

The theme “Beauty and the Beast” was sung by Mrs. Potts, Michelle Shang, to her son, Chip, played by Aliva Rowe.  The Beast’s transformation and finale were truly magical.

THERE’S still time to catch the final two performances of the NRHS Masquers’ musical “Beauty and the Beast” at the Daniel H. Shay Performing Arts Center on Friday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 9 at 4 p.m. The starring roles of Belle and the Beast are portrayed by seniors Maddy Alter and Sam Barrette. (Mary Lasdin Photo)

Masquers’ shows are completely designed built and run by students, according to musical director, producer and faculty advisor Allison Kane. She said students spend countless hours drawing and making scale models and blueprints before building the musical’s sets.

The students also designed and sewed all the costumes.  Sophomore Elinor DeCleene served as the crew chief for costumes. When asked if it was fun and would she like to do more shows in the future, she commented, “Yes and I want to do all the shows!”

Freshman Allison Rabideau designed all the special effects make up.  The intricate sets were planned and built by two graduating seniors who plan to study technical design in college.

The Pit Orchestra was conducted Eric Forman, who will be retiring at the end of this school year.

An old tale

The musical is actually based on a traditional French fairy tale written by Gabrielle Suzanne Barbot in 1740. Since the original, there have been many versions of the fairy tale published, including an opera in 1771. 

The Disney animated version of “Beauty and the Beast” won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. It was the first full-length animated feature to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Beast Brunch

In addition to the stage performance, the entire cast participated in an improvisational event called Brunch Beast on Sunday, Dec. 3. Each cast member wore their respective costumes and had to remain in character for the two-hour event.

The event allowed townspeople to enjoy food in the cafeteria. Pictures and videos of the guests with the cast of characters were available on Main Street. The cast also performed the dance routine to “Be Our Guest,” where cast members taught children the scene’s dance moves.

The brunch also featured sing-a-longs, tattoos, crafts and face painting an trivia and guests could take a backstage tour of the provincial town inside the theater.

Weekend shows

There are still two more performances of “Beauty and the Beast” this weekend.   

The musical will be shown on Friday, Dec. 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The show will be performed one last time on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 4 p.m.

“Beauty and the Beast” is an incredibly enjoyable musical from start to finish, and townspeople should check it out before the final curtain call.