The show must go on.
Despite COVID-19 throwing a wrench in the theater season — as it has for every other school program this year — W.F. West’s musical performance of “Beauty and The Beast” will continue as planned.
The show will be at W.F. West this weekend and the next for $8 per ticket. On Fridays Dec. 10 and 17, the musical will take place at 7:30 p.m. For Saturdays, Dec. 11 and 18, performances will begin at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Going into Thanksgiving, everything was going as planned with the show, Disney’s version of the classic story: A prince in 1700s provincial France is cursed to live as a beast until meeting true love.
“Then something happened over Thanksgiving and we had a couple positive tests. We’re no different from what’s been happening with sports,” said Director Brian Adams. “As a result, it put about four of my people out of the show for a certain amount of time.”
One of those currently out due to regulations is Emma Ricks, playing main character Belle. Her first day back happens to be opening night. The show will get final go-aheads after all cast members test negative on the Thursdays before both weekends.
In the meantime, the cast has had to find innovative ways to practice without their lead in person. Actors have been FaceTiming with Belle while she sings her parts.
“As a director, it's the first time I've had to deal with something like this and keep everybody together and say, ‘Guys we can do this. Are we gonna be committed to this? Or are we just gonna stop and say we'll pick it up in January?’ And everybody said, ‘No, let's push through.’ As long as we're still testing negative, which we have been,” Adams said.
Students in the play are thankful things are moving forward, because this is the first opportunity they’ve had to do a full-scale musical since the beginning of the pandemic.
Mariesa Mumford, a senior who is playing uppity hot shot Gaston, who tries and fails to win Belle’s affection, said she’s been acting since age 6, and this is in her top three favorite shows so far. The lack of boys trying out for theater warranted Mumford’s portrayal of Gaston, and students said they thought audiences would find it funny.
“With the fact that there was a lot of social distancing and stuff, and our group was cut in less than half last year … I've gotten to reconnect with people and I've gotten to meet new people,” Mumford said.
One of the exciting things about this show, actors said, is how it combines the new with the familiar. Audience members, they said, should look out for the real swordplay, which required careful choreography and safety training.
“It’s pretty similar but also very different from the original, because we also have more numbers now, more songs to just explain it more,” said Ruby Stanton, who is playing the enchantress.
Alongside acting with a FaceTimed lead, one challenge has been creating costumes to represent the dishes and other items characters will play to feel realistic and accurate.
“We can’t make our actors the size of the actual objects that they play. So that's a little difficult managing on stage,” said Nyah Taylor, who is playing living teapot Mrs. Potts.
W.F. West did a performance of Beauty and The Beast 10 years ago this year, so circling back to the audience pleaser has been a thrill for the students. Despite the roadblocks, Adams said: “We're gonna make it.”
Old Beggar Woman/Villager/Castle Staff: Ruby Stanton
Prince: Christian Patana
Belle: Emma Ricks
Maurice: Kody Paterson
Gaston: Mariesa Mumford
Lefou: Jenna Smith
Monsieur D’ Arque/Villager: Chloe Phillips
Cogsworth: Guinevere Chrzan
Lumiere: Carissa Smith
Babette: Hannah Bush
Mrs. Potts: Nyah Taylor
Little Chip: Evelyn Ricks
Big Chip: Jane Ricks
Madame De La Grande Bouche: Victor Wilson
The Beast: Liam Ponyah
Silly Girls: Emma Bush, Grace Robison, Gloria Wilcox
Villager/Castle Staff: Chara Durham, Isabella House, Mercedes Ricks, Isabella Taylor, Layla Von Wald