After months of rehearsal The Wilnecote School’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast took place just prior to half term. For three nights audiences were wowed by a talented group of students from across years 7-11.
The production was based on the Broadway/West End version of the show which meant students were performing all the songs and script that were originally performed by professional actors and musicians.
As ever there were last minute panics including a poorly Mrs Potts for our opening night. However, the true professional team spirit resulted in an impromptu appearance by Miss Julius as well as additional songs and lines given to other cast members and it all gelled perfectly. Thank you to everyone who came along and supported the production, BUT most importantly a huge ‘thank you’ to our talented cast and production team who worked tremendously hard to put this performance together.
We asked Louise Griffiths to review the show for the Warbler.
2019 saw the return of Wilnecote’s musicals. After two years Wilnecote took on a tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast. The show sold out three nights seeing laughter and joy from the audience.
Auditions took place in September and rehearsals began in October. For five months the cast rehearsed after school for three hours every week. Matthew White (Year 9) who played Lumiere said “I enjoyed working with friends”. After Christmas they started their late night rehearsals on Friday nights and all day Saturday rehearsals to get some extra practice before opening night. These rehearsals are the time when the show really comes together and the cast get to start using the set and wearing their costumes. Jess Cooper (Year 9) who played Mrs Potts said that the rehearsals were “really fun, I also love being able to spend time with people from other year groups”. On the 9th February the cast did their first tech run. This is when the final lighting, sound and staging is sorted out and gives them a real feel of what performing the show will be like. This also gave the tech team a chance to take photos and videos of the performance.
On Monday 11th February the cast did two dress rehearsals to local Primary Schools. This was the first time the cast performed in front of an audience and it was received well as the children really enjoyed it. Erin Shingler (Year 10) who played Belle said “Performing the show was such an amazing experience” and “I really enjoy the buzz you get from performing, there’s really nothing like it”.
Erin played one of the twins in Lord of the Flies last year but this year she took the lead and beautifully portrayed Belle’s charm and kindness. “I was so excited to have a main part in the show” commented Erin.
The Beast was played by Ben Ryan who is in Year 9. This was Ben’s first school show but he’s taken part in several Music Concerts and attends Stage It Performing Arts Academy outside of school. Ben did an amazing job playing the beast and ending the first act with his emotional solo ‘If I Can’t Love Her’. Ben said “It was an overwhelming and exciting experience and I was so pleased to be given a main role in my first school show”
Gaston was played by Sam Martin who is in Year 9. Sam has been in every school show since he joined the school in Year 7. Last year he played the other twin in Lord of the Flies and he also performs in other school events and outside of school. Sam did a hilarious and excellent job of playing Gaston and showing his evilness. Sam said “My favourite thing about being in the show is that it allows students from different years to work together on something fun”
The rest of the lead cast included Jack Ryan (Year 8) as Lefou, Rosie Reeves (Year 8) as Cogsworth, Matthew White (Year 9) as Lumiere, Lewis Newton (Year 11) as Belle’s dad Maurice, Jess Cooper (Year 9) as Mrs Potts and Chloe Dore (Year 7) as Chip. This was backed by an amazing Ensemble who supported the leads throughout the whole show.
The set design really brought the show to life and included all aspects of the show. Such as Belle’s cottage, the Beast’s castle and the woods. Throughout the show projections were used to enhance the set and the sound effects complimented this. The costumes were very similar to the films and stage production’s and really embodied the characters in their iconic outfits.
Highlights from the show included the opening number ‘Belle’, ‘Gaston’ performed by Gaston, Lefou and the Ensemble, the show stopping ‘Be Our Guest’ which was performed by Lumiere, Mrs Potts and the Ensemble, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ by Mrs Potts and ‘Beauty and the Beast reprise’ by the whole Company.
The whole cast are so talented and brought down the house three nights in a row. It was charming, joyful and above all entertaining. Lewis Newton (Year 11) who played Maurice said “The show was such an amazing, and great experience. We all worked together so well and it felt as if the cast was a second family!”