See the "tale as old as time" at Bellevue Senior High School this weekend

 Photo by Angela Bickhart-Sommers

Photo by Angela Bickhart-Sommers

Bellevue Senior High School theater director Angie Sommers said this year’s spring show is the most expensive the school has ever tackled. But expense hasn’t caused high school thespian troupes to shy away from “Beauty and the Beast.” The popular Disney tale about inner beauty, deceiving appearances and the capacity for redemption is one of the top five performed musicals among high schools, Sommers said.

Senior Austin Curliss, who plays Lumiere, a talking candlestick, said the musical offers a “large amount of fun.”
Large is an apt adjective to describe the scope of the musical. The BSHS cast will comprise 26 actors, who have been working with a student technical crew of 33.

Among those who will lead the large cast is senior Robin Coffelt, in the central role of Belle. “It’s definitely my favorite role that I’ve ever played,” said Coffelt, who can connect with Belle’s spunk, love of books and naiveté. Coffelt has performed three shows at BSHS and Belle marks her first lead. However, the teenager said in order to work, the show requires an ensemble cast working together to tell the story. The chorus, for example, must capture the emotion of the piece. “Without the chorus, the story wouldn’t be able to happen,” Coffelt said.

Making the show happen means getting ahold of many unique costumes and props. Sommers said the students’ parents made the oversized silverware many of the characters portray, while other props, such as a clock, candlestick and teapot were rented from Costume Holiday House in Fremont. “We have quite a large stage; we can fit a lot on there,” Sommers said.

How is Bellevue paying to put on the expensive production? Sommers said money from ticket sales for a particular show is earmarked toward the next show. So the cast, in essence, raises money for their shows by performing them.
“It’s all the drama club,” Sommers said. “They do such a great job (of) bringing in the people.” Sommers said she tries to choose shows that are popular. “Beauty and the Beast” fits the bill. In addition to its popularity among high school thespians, the show enjoyed longevity on Broadway. Its first preview on the Great White Way came March 9, 1994 and its closing date was July 29, 2007. During that more than 13-year period, it ran for 5,461 performances. The Facebook page for a touring production has garnered more than 9,000 likes. 

Sommers said she’s pleased with the students’ progress in rehearsals. “Everybody’s been doing really well, they’ve been working really hard,” she said. The students had to work a little harder; while they were rehearsing for “Beauty and the Beast,” they also were practicing to take last fall’s production of “M.A.S.H.” to a thespian state conference. “I was so proud of my kids; they did excellent,” Sommers said about their performance in “M.A.S.H.”

In addition to Coffelt as Belle, the “Beauty and the Beast” cast includes junior Brandon Heyward as Gaston, sophomore Standley Johnson as the Beast, junior Winston Schaffer as Lefou, junior Jalicia Ruttino as Mrs. Potts, senior Kelly Collins as Chip, junior Jared Skiles as Cogsworth and senior Cordell Rohlf as Maurice.

Performances are set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Bellevue Elementary School, 1150 Castalia St., Bellevue. 
Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors

You can buy tickets from 4 to 8 p.m. this week at Bellevue Elementary School in order to choose seats, or tickets will be available at the door.