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Cappies: Nothing's beastly with Northwest's 'Beauty'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 24, 2013 - Although the weather in Missouri seems unbearable, entertainment in this fine state is thriving. On a recent Thursday night, Northwest High School in Cedar Hill brought a ray of sunshine to these dreary days and took the world back to those irresistible cartoons of our childhoods. In a compilation of music, stunning colors and voices, Northwest High School presented Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

The Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast” was based on the 1991 movie, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Seven songs were added to the original score before it was put on Broadway. The show ran for 5,461 performances between 1994 and 2007 and was Broadway’s eighth longest-running production.

It is a classic story about a misfit girl taking her father’s place in a seemingly dangerous castle. She falls in love with the master, who is a beast, and finds where she belongs along the way. The Beast needs her to fall in love with him to break a spell that was cast on his castle long ago. He has the help of his servants who, like him, were turned into magical creatures.

At Northwest High School, Molly Fowler plays Belle, the Beauty. Her vocals are some of the best of the evening. Molly captures the innocence and quiet beauty of her role. Brandon Janssen as Gaston commands the stage with his booming voice and confident façade. Brandon brings a much-needed energy to the entire production. Brandon and Molly know the type of awkward, forceful chemistry they need between each other, and play it up to the fullest. Molly’s chemistry with her love interest, Dalton Mathis as the Beast, is precisely delivered. They catch the sweet kind of love needed between them to offset the forcefulness of Molly’s chemistry with Brandon.

Other characters who are also noteworthy are Lumiere played by Haley Korn and Mrs. Potts played by Annabelle Gyngard. Haley does an excellent job with the quirkiness of Lumiere’s personality. This brings such a necessary, light-hearted air to the entire production. Annabelle does such a wonderful job with her portrayal of the mature, motherly Mrs. Potts. Annabelle’s vocals are also among the most impressive of the evening, especially in songs like, “Tale As Old As Time.” Characters played as Annabelle and Haley did keep the show moving.

From a technical aspect, lights are almost always on the characters when they need to be, except a few times when faces of some of the chorus members cannot be seen. Sound by Charles Pitchford, however, is put together quite resourcefully. While some characters have mics and some do not, the entire cast does a splendid job of projection so the stage mics can pick them up. It shows how a company really must work together. A bright point of the evening is during the Beast’s transformation, with special effects by Chris Puhlmann. These effects truly bring out the magic of the event and are brilliantly and creatively executed.

The united nature of this cast is truly visible. They take what they have and make the absolute most of it. One can tell that this cast and crew love performing together and putting on shows, because they put on an enjoyable one. The world will always love a good Disney movie, but it means everything that Northwest High School is keeping the dream alive through the wonderful world of theater.

Kristianna Pirrie is a student at Pattonville High School. The Cappies program works with students who review high school theatrical productions.

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