Drama club brings tale to life

High school students invite community members to be their guests

HOWLAND — High school drama students invite you to be their guest.

The Howland High School Drama Club will perform “a tale as old as time” — Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” — 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the middle school auditorium.

Second-year adviser Janel Darrin said the club usually performs two to three plays in fall and one spring musical. After selecting “The Election,” “The Internet is Distract — OH LOOK A KITTEN!” and “The Audition” for fall productions, Darrin said she chose the Disney classic because the main roles will allow the students to showcase their talents and the skills they’ve learned throughout the year.

“Beauty and the Beast” tells the story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is a prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will transform into his former self.

The history of “Beauty and the Beast” traces back to 1937, a school news release states, when Walt Disney procured the rights to the fairy tale to adapt into a feature film. Following attempts to turn the “Beauty and the Beast” into a film, the story was shelved for 50 years until Disney Studios began to animate it as a musical in 1989.

The full-length animated movie opened in 1991 to critical acclaim, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the Academy Award for Best Song.

The movie was then transformed into a live-action Broadway musical between 1994 and 2007.

While the club stuck with the familiar plot, Darrin said, it expanded and developed new characters, such as Babbette, the feather duster and Lumiere’s love interest, and Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou.

She said the Wardrobe, Madame de la Granche Bouche, also is a bigger character in the stage version.

Musical highlights will be the opening song, “Belle,” as well as “Gaston,” “Be Our Guest,” “Human Again” and “The Mob Song.” But, Darrin said, the audience also can expect new musical numbers, like “Me” by Gaston, the endearing “No Matter What” between Belle and her father, “If I Can’t Love Her” sung by the Beast, the sinister “Maison Des Lunes,” and two ballads written for Belle — “Home” and “A Change in Me.”

Darrin said the 2017 film adaptation and live-action remake of the Disney fairy tale, which releases the same day as the first high school performance, didn’t influence her decision to pick it as this year’s spring musical. She said when picking a musical, she chooses ones that are relatable, with good storylines the cast can re-tell using high-quality performances.

She also had to take into consideration the number of roles and her students’ abilities. Luckily, Darrin said, this year’s cast has “done a fabulous job.”

From singing, acting and dancing to creating and building the set, the students, she said, will have the opportunity to share their creativity and hard work, which started in early-January.

She said the high school’s drama club is “no cut,” so students who audition will participate in some facet.

“It’s an important outlet for kids … and we really try and teach them,” Darrin said. ” It’s not just about being on the stage.”

She and her husband, Matt, work as advisers and directors, teaching the students skills to use in the future. Darrin said she’s seen several students who haven’t sang before land lead roles.

“These students are really motivated and work a lot on their own,” she said.

Some students also stepped behind the scenes. Sophomore Samuel Darrin and senior Emily Schneider both worked on the choreography sequences, while seniors Cole Kistler and Natalie Chambers took on roles as assistant directors, helping manage students as well as organize and stage the show.

The more than 50 students involved in this year’s musical led Darrin to double-cast actors, so each role will be performed by two students. Though it’s difficult to manage, having two actors for one role showcases the students’ dedication, since “they have less time on stage,” she said.

“At this point, they only get to (perform) every other (rehearsal),” Darrin said.

The cast includes seniors Gabrielle Darrin and Destiny Smith as Belle, seniors Victor Williams and Karlis Larson as the Prince / Beast, seniors Cole Kistler and Sam Mattern as Gaston, seniors Schneider and Chambers as Babbette, seniors Sidney DiCenso and Amanda Kowloskee as Mrs. Potts, sophomore Samuel Darrin and senior Andrew Sutton as Lumiere, seniors Juan Rodriguez, and Austin Watson as Cogsworth, seniors Mika Freeman and Rebecca Wise as the Wardrobe, senior Izzy Albrect and junior Taylor Cook as Chip, senior Brian Messina as the Bookseller, juniors Connor Hurst, Alek Marahmas and Chris Weston as LaFou, and senior Elias Hatzandonis and sophomore Michael Schaefer as Belle’s father Maurice.

Tickets are available 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays at the high school activity office and Howland United Methodist Church.