Hoboken school musical director Danielle Miller is not endeavoring for the new “Beauty and the Beast” musical to twist audience expectations or offer a startling new rendition. Instead, she’s simply putting on a classic show that’s grand in more ways than one.
A twelve-piece band will perform magical Disney tunes as a cast of 100 students from kindergarten to 12th grade performs the district’s largest performance ever.
“The set is huge, the costumes are elaborate, there are large multiple five- to seven-minute dance numbers, and the show is a little over two hours long,” said Miller, who recently directed “The Little Shop of Horrors” for the high school. “We had to rent backdrops; we are bringing in a professional makeup artist for prosthetics for the Beast… [And] I brought in a dialect coach to teach accents to Lumiere, Babette, Mrs. Potts, and Cogsworth. I jokingly say that this show is a ‘Beast’ on so many levels because it is.”
In the show, Belle, whose father is imprisoned, offers herself to captivity, unaware that the Beast is a forlorn enchanted prince.
Students from 5 to 18 make up the cast from the city’s four elementary schools and the high school.
“It is such a heartwarming experience to see a town, a community, come together and support theatre,” said Miller, who says a rehearsal highlight for her was seeing the second grader who plays Chip have his first real theatre experience.
“I really like that I get to have a totally new experience,” said Chip, aka Lucas Daly, 8, of Wallace School, who is ready to play his first lead. “It’s pretty cool that I get to meet lots of new friends and be around high school kids.”
The show will premiere at the high school auditorium on May 20 at 7 p.m., with matinees also planned for May 21 and 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $7 for general admission, $5 for students, and $3 for senior students. To buy tickets visit www.hhsnj.booktix.com.
Be our guest
Fans of the original animated movie will be thrilled by the musical hits – such numbers as “Be Our Guest,” “Beauty & The Beast,” and “Human Again.”
Although this is 14-year-old Gianaly Santiago’s first time playing Belle, the ninth grader has previously played another princess: “Ariel” in “The Little Mermaid”.
“What I love most about performing in this production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is not only being able to play another Disney princess, but being able to portray such an independent, strong woman is a joy like no other,” Santiago said. “Belle’s aura is a miracle to bring to life onstage and to bring into my everyday life by sending a message to young girls, that girls — for lack of a better word — rock.”
17-year-old Willie Allen, who was praised for his portrayal of the plant in “Little Shop,” is bittersweet as he enters his final role.
“I like working with the younger kids,” said the 12th grader, who will play the Beast. “[There’s] something about mixing children and theatre that turns art into magic.”
Ames McNamara, a fourth grade student at Wallace School who plays Lefou, offers his own interpretation of the heartwarming play: “You should never judge people by how they look. You should judge them by how they act.”