If you go
What: Franklin Regional High School presents Disney's “Beauty & the Beast”
When: 7:30 p.m. March 2-4 and 2 p.m. March 5
Where: Franklin Regional High School, 3210 School Road, Murrysville
Tickets: $14, available at the box office beginning 90 minutes before each performance or at FRHSmusical.com
Details: A limited number of tickets are available for a $10 “Brunch with Belle and Friends” in the high-school cafeteria before the March 5 matinee.
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Updated 13 hours ago
Franklin Regional High School musical director Mark Wolfgang timed the school's production of “Beauty & the Beast” just right: it opens Thursday, March 2, and runs through the weekend, two weeks in advance of the premiere date for Disney's new live-action remake of its classic cartoon.
“Luckily, we release first,” Wolfgang said. “I've wanted to do this musical for a long time. I have two little girls, and we all love this movie.”
Senior Caroline Taddonio, who is playing the lead role of Belle, agreed with Wolfgang.
“Being Belle, being every little girl's favorite princess, is the coolest thing,” said Taddonio, 17, as she prepared for rehearsal in the classic yellow dress from the film's ballroom sequence.
Both Taddonio and Wolfgang said they want the musical to remind audience members of the film, but not copy it outright.
“I watched the movie and also watched a lot of YouTube videos, especially of the Broadway production, to see what they did with the character,” Taddonio said.
Wolfgang said he wants students to develop their own take on the characters.
“I don't want my Cogsworth to be exactly like the Cogsworth from the original,” he said. “I want him to be different, but similar enough that the audience will still recognize it.”
The show presents some unique difficulties for many of the main characters, mostly related to the costumes designed by Nancy McCormick: Lumiere the French candlestick doesn't get to use his hands until the very end of the show; Jacob Wei's Beast has to contend with the massive horns on his wig and a separate jawpiece to transform himself into the monstrous former prince; and senior Savannah Simeone's Mrs. Potts literally has to hold her “tea spout” arm at a right angle for the entire show.
“That's the hardest part,” she said. “Well, that and my British accent. I watched a lot of videos online, and I watched Angela Lansbury in the (animated film). I try to make sure to get the words right and not overdo it, because it would be an easy thing to do.”
The cast of 85, along with 65 crew and orchestra members who are also students, began rehearsals following the winter break in January. In the past week, they've done a full technical rehearsal and made several full funs through the show with the 25-member orchestra, many of whom are also students.
Wolfgang said he's excited to see the production come to life.
“I think we have the right talent this year to get the most out of these roles,” he said. “As a teacher, it's great to see the kids take this script and turn it into a show. That's just really fun to watch.”
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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