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In ACS production of Beauty and the Beast, talent and technology reign

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2013 at 12:00 am
Beast

Photo by Tom Rivers – William Grimble plays the Beast in the musical that includes pyrotechnics and some flying performers, including a Beast who is transformed back into a prince.

ALBION – Nine years ago Albion High School was one of the first schools to perform Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Albion put the show on again March 22-23, but this time it deployed an array of pyrotechnics and “flying people,” performers who sailed above stage on strings. The cast of 34 also had 24 performers with individual microphones, far more than the show in 2004.

“The technology has really advanced,” said Gary Simboli, the musical director. “There are flying sequences and pyrotechnics.”

Gaston

Photo by Tom Rivers – Nathanial Trembley, left, plays the role of Gaston, who is preparing to go fight the Beast. Elijah Martin, right, plays Monsieur D’Arque.

Simboli tries to pick shows that are suited to the strengths of his cast. This year’s spring musical has several soloists.

“We were looking for an ensemble show,” he said. “It has many wonderful featured characters.”

Mary Martin plays Belle, a bookworm who is constantly fending off the affections of the conceited Gaston, played by Nathaniel Trembley. When Belle’s father Maurice (Michael Karcz) gets lost in the woods, he seeks shelter at the Beast’s castle.

Belle

Photo by Tom Rivers – Mary Martin stars as Belle in “Beauty in the Beast,” performed by Albion students on March 22-23.

The Beast refuses to let him go until Belle agrees to stay in his place. She, at first, is repulsed by the Beast with his hideous appearance and foul temper.

But a gentler Beast emerges, winning Belle over with a library and acts of kindness.

“The main moral of the story is to look at the beauty within a person,” Martin said. “Belle saw with her heart and not her eyes.”

Martin, a senior, sees other powerful story lines in the show as well. She likes how Belle is an independent spirit, relishing reading despite scorn from Gaston and other townspeople. Her father also is an eccentric inventor who follows that passion.

Belle commits the ultimate sacrifice, offering her life in exchange for her father’s freedom, Martin noted.

Grimble wears a long wig, horns, a prosthetic on his face, lots of makeup and claw feet to look the part of the Beast. The greatest challenge: the strain on his voice.

“You go from speaking in a gruff voice to switching for singing,” he said. “You’re constantly assaulting your voice.”

Grimble, a senior, was able to preserve his voice by drinking green tea, taking herbal throat drops and gargling a mix of water, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, which he called “an incredibly revolting concoction.”

About 80 students were part of the show in either the cast, stage crew, set design or orchestra.

“Everyone works so hard to make the show the best it can be,” Grimble said.