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By LeAnn R. Ralph
Colfax — Members of the Colfax High School Drama Club have been working on perfecting their performance of “Beauty and the Beast” since early August — and now it’s show time.
Performances are scheduled for Friday, November 3, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, November 4, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, November 5, at 2 p.m. in the Martin Anderson Gymnasium at Colfax High School.
The music is by Alan Mencken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and based on the book by Linda Woolverton.
Many people will be familiar with the storyline of Belle falling in love with The Beast, who is actually a prince put under a spell. The other people living in the castle also are put under a spell and become household items such as a teapot, a teacup, a feather duster and a lamp.
When asked about the character she plays, Jordan Johnson, who is Belle, said, “I like that she’s witty and very passionate about the things she likes.”
Jordan says she had been working on “sounding more like a princess …Your voice is higher pitched, and you draw out certain vowels.”
She has a number of solos to perform as well.
“I grew up listening to ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ It was always my favorite movie to watch when I was little. So I already knew the songs. It made them very easy to memorize,” Jordan said.
Before this, Jordan performed in “Catch Me if You Can” as a member of the chorus and as Miss Honey in last year’s production of “Matilda.”
Audrey Ebert is the narrator for the musical and also plays Mrs. Potts, who supervised the castle servants and, after the spell was cast, became a living teapot.
“I have to narrate what’s in the prologue, and then the prince and the Enchantress get to act out what I am saying,” Audrey said.
The Enchantress is played by Sienna Plank.
“As Mrs. Potts, I’m this older woman who is so upbeat all the time. I think everyone is hilarious. It is an amazing part to play,” Audrey said.
In fifth grade, Audrey performed in “The Music Man.”
“I was in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat’ but we did not get to perform that one (because of COVID). As a freshman, I was in ‘Catch Me if You Can,’ and then in my sophomore year in high school, I was in ‘Matilda,’ and this year, I’m in ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” she said.
Derek Westholm, one of the music teachers in the Colfax school district, is the director of the play.
Westholm always thought Audrey had a good speaking voice, she said.
“To prepare for the part, I read over it once, and I try my best to stay calm, focused and (then) read. That’s all you can really do,” Audrey said.
To prepare for the role of Mrs. Potts, “I watched the animated a bunch of times. I try to embrace the animated version. I try to bring as much of that as I can to our version,” she said.
Mrs. Potts’ parts are a little harder to play “because she has to be a little softer and a little older. But I think I’ve got it under control. I am not as prepared as the animated actor was, but I’ve got my own little spin on it,” Audrey said.
“I love that everyone has seen (Beauty and the Beast). Everyone knows how Mrs. Potts should be, and I like to meet those expectations. Being her gives me empowerment,” she said.
Wade Dickinsen, a second grader, is the youngest actor in the play and portrays Chip.
When the spell was cast on the castle, Chip, who is Mrs. Potts’ son, became a teacup with a chip in it.
“I like that I get to ride around in a little tea cart,” Wade said.
To prepare for the part, Wade said he goes to bed early so he can get some sleep “and I do some relaxing stuff.”
Trying out for the musical “was fun, but scary for the first time,” he said.
“Beauty and the Beast” is Wade’s first production.
“We have a lot of good characters, and we’re good at acting them,” Wade said.
The songs have not been very difficult to learn because, “I’ve only got a few solos,” he said.
While Wade so casually mentioned that he only had “a few solos,” many people might think singing only one solo in front of a large audience would be difficult enough.
Wade, however, has had practice in singing solos at the winter concerts for school.
He says he would encourage other students to try out for the school musicals “because you get to meet new kids.”
Ashley Solberg plays Babette and also is a villager.
The character was known as Babette in the Broadway stage production, but in the most recent Disney feature film, she was known as Plumette.
Babette is a maid in the castle who was turned into a feather duster by the Enchantress’s spell.
“I really like the fact that I get to be ‘really out there’ … she’s super over-dramatic. I know I can be as well, but she takes it to whole other level,” Ashley said.
“The biggest thing in getting prepared was adding a little French to a British accent. I think that was the hardest part. Certain sounds … it was kind of difficult to pick where I was going to do that accent,” she said.
The songs, Ashley said, are not especially difficult, “but the timing is the biggest thing to learn.”
Ashley says this will be her eighth show.
“I’ve got a few under my belt,” she said.
The actors for the musicals always spend a tremendous amount of time practicing — many hours spread out over at least three months.
“The people you are involved with and the show itself make it all definitely 100 percent worth it in the end,” she said.
Alexander Rose plays Lefou, who is Gaston’s sidekick.
Gaston wants to marry Belle because she is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Belle, however, dislikes Gaston because he is an arrogant snob with a narcissistic personality. She is the only girl in the village who is not foolishly obsessed with Gaston.
“I played a similar character in the play last year, but this is a slightly bigger role,” Alexander said.
“And I get a good chunk of a song. I am expanding my acting skills by having more lines and singing parts,” he said.
“Being with a lot of people I’ve already met builds on relationships … the musical is a like a family, even if they annoy you at times. We always come back together in the end to accomplish great things,” Alexander said.
The one aspect of the musical Alexander does not care for is that “after Gaston gets offed, we don’t really know what happens to him. His arc stays unresolved. I kind of want to know more. Where did Lefou come from? How did he meet Gaston? Did he have other people he sucked up to?”
Last year, Alexander played Michael in “Matilda.”
Before that, when he was much younger, when he in second and third grade, Alexander was in a couple of other plays in small parts.
“I don’t remember much about it because I was only on stage for about 10 seconds,” he said.
Westholm provided the option for the students to have a printed script before school let out last spring.
“That way I could look through all my lines and rehearse my singing parts to come prepared. And he also posts video of the performance and practice tracts so you are fully prepared when you first go on stage,” Alexander said.
Diction and enunciation is another skill that Alexander says he has been working on.
“There is so much clever wordplay with Gaston, really enunciating those words is something that is key. I’m trying my hardest at that,” he said.
“This is a play everyone knows. For the younger kids, it will be ‘Oh, I know this show.’ And for the older people, it will be ‘Oh, I know this show, and I want to see how well they do it,’” he said.
Tickets for “Beauty and the Beast” are available at the Colfax High School office and will be available at the door, unless or until, they are all sold out.
The good news is that this year, there is an extra performance of the musical on Saturday afternoon.
General seating is $5, and children under five years old are free.
Here is the cast list for “Beauty and the Beast”:
Belle — Jordan Johnson.
The Beast — Aydren Beebe.
Gaston — Theo Hovde.
Lefou — Alexander Rose.
Lumiere — Nathan Boesl.*
Cogsworth — David Paulson.*
Mrs. Potts/Narrator — Audrey Ebert.*
Babette — Ashley Solberg.*
Madame De La Grande Bouche — Ava Sedivy.*
Madame (Monsieur) D’arque — Willow Molde.*
Maurice — Jacob Wibel.*
Les Filles De La Ville — Daisy Sunshine*
Megan Christensen*, Olivia Schindler.*
Enchantress/Old Beggar Woman — Sienna Plank.*
Chip — Wade Dickinsen.
(* denotes inclusion in ensemble roles)
(Villagers, Enchanted Castle Staff, Wolves)
Stella Darmstadt, Amelia Schmitt, Abigayle Fruit, Elizabeth Schmitt, Rosemary Loew, Rachel Rose, Tanyth Nagler, Kendall Wilson, Arianna McVinnie, Beverly Beyrer, Elizabetha Heitkamp, Sawyer Scott, Michael Christensen, Charlotte Dickinsen, Charles Fruit, Hadley Geurts, Nora Kitchner, Loralynn Kragness, Olivia Kragness, Kinsley Prochnow, Lia Ralph, Makenna Ross, Abigail Schindler, Michael Scott, Evelyne-Mae Slotevig, Tony Sonnentag.