Nancy Sasso Janis
Watertown High School presents a student-directed and student-managed production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ this weekend at their school theater.
The play ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a version of the fairy tale that is far less glitzy than the musical Disney movie. The merchant, the father of gentle Beauty and her four siblings, has lost his fortune and then gets stranded in the woods. The servants of the Beast rescue him and bring him to the enchanted castle. When the merchant cuts a beautiful rose to give to his beloved daughter, the Beast demands that Beauty come live in his castle and you know the rest.
There are no dancing forks, talking teapots or dancing in the ballroom, but there is a china plate motif in the dancing servants dressed in black and white. The mean sisters and loyal brothers add a bit of comedy to the proceedings but not even the Gaston character is a cartoon. The first act has ten scenes, some very short and takes us up to where Beast allows Beauty to return home to see her ailing father. The shorter second act has only four scenes in which to wrap up the action making for a ninety minute performance with a brief intermission.
Watertown HS senior Alisa McClain directed her fellow students with the help of senior Britt Jacovich. Senior William Stango designed and constructed the impressive fairy tale set and sophomore Serena Lucarelli, assisted by Katelyn Gillette lit it beautifully. There were some sound issues that actually made me feel like we were part of the cast, so it was endearing. The teacher advisors were Michelle Baim and Christopher Begnal, but the students were responsible for every little detail. The stage crew did an impressive job with their duties.
Joshua Viltrakis, a Watertown senior who was so wonderful as Nicely Nicely in NTT’s ‘Guys and Dolls,’ was equally as impressive as Beast. He was the perfect mix of scary and tender and looked great in his costume designed by Maria Ramirez and Jennifer Beveridge. Senior Kristen VanDerlyn, Sarah in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ was perfectly beautiful and convincing as the caring Beauty. She proved herself a strong actress and glowed in every scene.
Matthew LeBlanc, another senior, was strong in the role of the Merchant character, a father who is raising his brood alone. Aedan Manning played his son Wynne and Joshua Rodis (‘Guys and Dolls’) was his brother Geoff. Eliya Brennan was the loud Iris and Madison McNulty was her sister Lilly. Samantha Cross was perfect as the mysterious old woman who entered from the audience.
Senior James Chhit played Squire Gregory and Brian Grimm was Hector, the suitors to these awful sisters. Alex Perez appeared to great acclaim as the transformed prince. Skylar Bartush and Tyla Risuci danced as the lead servants and shared choreography duties. The servants were played impishly by Aleksandra Barna, Jessica Beverly, Danielle Madeux, Mary Ryan, Heather Ruszkowski, Emily Teixeira, Amanda Hughes, Karrie Leduc Santoro and Hayley Zemaitis.
Kudos to the students for choosing something different and pulling if off. The play closes on Saturday at 7:00pm. Watertown HS has announced their spring musical will be ‘Footloose.’
Photo by Karen VanDerlyn