1. Stage

Springstead High prepares to take on popular musical 'Beauty and the Beast'

SPRING HILL — Beauty and the Beast is a French fairy tale made widely popular by the 1991 animated Disney film. A musical based on the film has proven popular as well. It ran on Broadway from 1994 to 2007, making it the ninth longest-running show there.

The drama and choral departments at Springstead High School will take on the musical with a production that runs from March 31 through April 4 at Springstead Theatre. (There will be no shows April 2 because of the school's prom.)

"People love the movie and the musical," said director Mark Pennington.

The musical tells the story of a prince who, due to his selfishness and cruelty, was transformed into a hideous beast. It isn't until a young girl named Belle becomes imprisoned in his castle that he can work on gaining her love in order to return to his human self.

The show stars senior Gigi Michalicka as Belle and junior Kyle White as Beast.

"Gigi is a fantastic singer, a beautiful girl," Pennington said. "Her singing is her strength."

Pennington said White, whom he recruited from the school band, is a big guy who is doing a great job in his role, and has a strong voice.

The audience will also enjoy senior Will Simone in his portrayal of Lumiere, the candelabra, said Pennington.

"Will does a fantastic job," he said. "His forte is acting, and he sings well, too."

Senior Julia Diven, in her portrayal as Mrs. Potts, performs a beautiful rendition of the title song, made famous by Angela Lansbury.

"Julia is an amazing young lady," Pennington said. "She works hard and has a great singing voice."

The huge cast includes more than 50 performers. Some other key players include Tully Goldrick as the egotistical Gaston and Talia Jaeger as his sidekick, Lefou; Chris Rocanelli as Belle's father, Maurice; Abby Gooch as Babette the feather duster; Emma Carter as Madame de la Grande Bouche the wardrobe; Makayla Messaris as Chip the teacup; Jonnie Pletincks as Cogsworth the clock; and Gavin Clark as Monsieur D'Arque, the scheming asylum proprietor.

About 10 dancers from Erin's Danceworks will perform in the group number Be Our Guest.

The show will include professional backdrops and costumes.

"The stage will look beautiful," Pennington said. "And the costumes are elaborate."

In addition to the public performances, the show will be performed for about 2,500 elementary- and middle-school students.

"We primarily do (shows) for the kids," Pennington acknowledges. "For some of them, this may be their only chance to see a show."