The castle residents once they are turned “Human Again”: Zoey Hellfors (Madame de la Grande Bouche)

Prince Rupert students telling a tale as old as time

Students from Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) want the community to "be their guest" for this year's musical, Beauty and the Beast.

Students from Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) want the community to “be their guest” for this year’s musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

High school performers have been working on the production since September, which includes the book by Linda Woolverton, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

“It’s coming along really well,” Alison O’Toole, artistic director of the production, said.

“It’s a funny play. We ran through Act 1 the other night and it was hilarious. It’s going to be a really good time.”

Based on the Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast is about a selfish prince (Allen Liu) who is transformed into a hideous beast as a punishment, along with everyone in his castle (Kelsy Casavant, Tony Duong, Aaron Grant, Jenny Nguyen, Cyrus Sobredo) who become inanimate objects.

“The only thing that will break the spell is for the prince to love someone who loves him back,” said O’Toole.

Enter Belle (Jessica Bruce), who is searching for her inventor father Maurice (Skylar Tuba) who has been taken prisoner in the Beast’s castle.

Belle and the Beast form an unlikely friendship, with the two developing romantic feelings for each other.

This is much to the dismay of Gaston (Ryan Wightman), who is planning to blackmail Belle into marrying him.

“For the older generation, it will take them back to their childhood. For the younger ones it will be the story they know brought to life,” said O’Toole, who has been helping Prince Rupert students put on musicals for 20 years.

O’Toole said the production has a strong cast.

“Even though there’s a lot of new comers, they are willing to take risks and put themselves out there. It’s been so fun to watch the character development with a lot of them,” she said.

There are 31 students in the cast this year, as well as 11 students playing in the orchestra.

“We’ve had to reach into the community for [five additional] musicians, but that’s the good thing about Prince Rupert. There’s a good stock of willing and able musicians,” Jeff Saunders, musical director of the production, said.

Audiences can expect beloved music from the Disney movie, including Beauty and the Beast, Be Our Guest and Gaston.

“All the songs from the movie will be included, and some more tunes added for the stage production,” O’Toole said.

This year more CHSS students are involved than ever, said O’Toole, with students in the school’s sewing classes helping with costumes, and the metal works class helping to create props.

“Their blood, sweat and tears have gone into the set, the props, costumes, music and dances. It really is their creation; It’s an amazing collaboration,” she said.

Performances of CHSS’ Beauty and the Beast will take place at the Lester Centre of the Arts on Dec. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m., and on Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.

“The community should see [Beauty and the Beast] because it is a great example of what talented young people can do when they put their mind to something,” O’Toole said.

“I think we have something special going on … it would be great for the community to see the hard work and dedication these kids have shown,” Saunders added.

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