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‘Beauty and the Beast’ enchants audiences

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By Lisa Moore
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

Wellesley High School’s drama department outdid themselves with the fall musical production, “Beauty and the Beast.” The performance was so professionally done that Walt Disney himself would have been impressed. The culmination of months of work left audiences asking if there were professional actors on stage, and wondering if the music was taped instead of live. With a cast of 70 student actors, singers, and dancers, a 16-piece orchestra, a team of over 40 tech, lighting and props students, costume and make-up helpers, a huge parent volunteer group supported by POPS, Dr. Kevin McDonald, Brian McManimon, Steve Scott and Stephen Wrobleski, the performances did not disappoint the sold-out shows’ audiences. Dazzling costumes, intricate sets, and dramatic lighting brought the enchanted world of Beast, Belle, and all of the enchanted objects to life.

WHS senior Cypress Smith (Belle) and Cam Ayer (Beast) share a moment on stage. Photos by Barry Braunstein

WHS senior Cypress Smith (Belle) and Cam Ayer (Beast) share a moment on stage. Photos by Barry Braunstein

Costume designers Cathy Dubois and Christin Gillooly spent countless hours working since last summer preparing for the show. The daunting task of dressing two sets of lead characters and a huge ensemble, all individually fitted with at least two costumes, was managed with the help of many student and parent volunteers that assisted with sewing, gluing, and finishing costumes. When WHS senior Cypress Smith stepped into Belle’s ball gown, she was transformed, looking every bit a princess.

“I feel like a princess” said Cypress. No stranger to the stage, Cypress has been performing since childhood, and has performed in numerous WHS productions and choral groups. Her melodious voice and talented portrayal of Belle brought audience members to their feet for a standing ovation after each performance. Joined onstage by fellow talented veterans Cam Ayer who played Beast, Scott Johnson who played Gaston, Jack Grossi as Lumiere, Caitlin Gillooly as Mrs. Potts and Will Fulginiti as Cogsworth, the talented group of actors brought the fairytale to life. During intermission and at the end of each performance, the actors took time while still in costume to meet and greet audience members and take pictures with their fans. Little girls dressed in Belle costumes eagerly waited to take pictures with Beast, Belle, and the host of enchanted objects.
Watching the singers, dancers, musicians, and tech crew working collaboratively together to create such a fabulous product was magical in itself. As the town and high school are all trying to strive to be “One Wellesley,” the drama department seems to have the right formula for an inclusive environment.

Audience members could have been forgiven for thinking they were at a Broadway show - the WHS production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ thoroughly blurred the line between professional and amateur theatre. Photos by Barry Braunstein

Audience members could have been forgiven for thinking they were at a Broadway show - the WHS production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ thoroughly blurred the line between professional and amateur theatre. Photos by Barry Braunstein

“I hope we do.” Said Wrobleski, “I think, because theater is a collaborative art, it helps to foster an inclusive environment. We try to be welcoming to everyone who walks in the door.” That inclusive mentality is one reason the show had such a large cast. Everyone was welcomed and included in the show. “It was the largest technical show we have ever done.” added Wrobleski. When asked how he plans on topping this last musical production, he said, “Don’t ask me that, it keeps me up at night. Up next for this year is the senior directed One-Act Festival and then the winter play.”

A production of this magnitude took a great deal of support from local community businesses that helped defray production costs. Wellesley Bank Charitable Foundation, Linx Dance Studios, Mane and Mani, and Teri Adler at Pinnacle Properties were the major show sponsors.

For information on upcoming shows and events, visit www.wellesleyps.org.

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