Tale of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to be told in Allentown

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Rebecca Nowalski
Michael Mottram as Gaston during dress rehearsal for the AHS production of “Beauty and the Beast” on February 1.

By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

ALLENTOWN –  The classic story of “Beauty and the Beast” will come to life on the stage at Allentown High School, 27 High St., when students present the musical at 7 p.m. Feb. 23-25.

Tickets at $9 for students and $10 for adults may be purchased by emailing [email protected]. At the door, tickets will be $12.

“Beauty and the Beast” is directed by Nicole Machin.

For senior Alaina Stampe, playing the role of female lead Belle is a dream come true. In addition to playing a lead role for the first time, “Beauty and the Beast” was the first musical the young woman saw on Broadway.

“It’s exciting to be in the yellow dress,” Alaina said. “And it’s rewarding to show my family how far I have come. Being in ensemble roles has taught me values like how to work as a team during a show. When you are a lead, it’s a huge commitment. You need to take care of yourself and stay healthy.”

Alaina views Belle as a powerful woman with more deep-rooted values than others in her village and as a person who knows what she wants and is willing to pursue it.

“There is a bit of Belle in all of us,” Alaina said. “We all have a piece inside us that wants to be part of a bigger adventure and to go after our goals. She inspires me to pursue what I want.”

Junior Brian Buechele will take on his first leading role in high school when he portrays the titular Beast.

“Playing a lead is harder, but it’s also exciting,” Brian said. “To get a role like this is humbling and feels great.”

In Brian’s eyes, the Beast is an isolated individual with a curse he manages to overcome. Although he considers the character to be different from himself, Brian is able to portray the Beast by thinking of his background. The young man said his transition into the Beast’s mindset is aided by the costume he wears for the part.

“When I get into the costume, it helps me become the character,” Brian said. “The costume is really hot, but it’s also really cool to wear.”

Cast against the musical’s protagonists is sophomore Michael Mottram, who portrays the antagonist Gaston.

“Gaston is the main guy in town,” Michael said. “Although others see him differently, he doesn’t think he is conceited. He thinks he deserves what he wants and he thinks he deserves Belle.”

Michael said he sees similarities between Gaston and himself due to how he (Michael) is perceived physically, but considers himself different in terms of personality.

“People say I’m a pretty boy, but I don’t flaunt it like Gaston does,” he said, adding that portraying an antagonist is a new experience for him. “I like being the bad guy. It’s new and different.”

Junior Sam Porozok can relate to having fun in the show when he assumes the role of Gaston’s sidekick and lackey Lefou.

“Even in a story based on a cartoon, Lefou is a cartoon character,” Sam said. “He’s all over the place. This is my first major role in high school and it’s so much fun.”

Sam described Lefou as comedic and foolish, which he can partially relate to.

“I would like to think I’m funny,” he said. “So I would like to think I was chosen as Lefou because people see me as comedic and funny, not because of the foolish part.”

Although he is playing a character much older than himself, sophomore Evan Heddy sees how he is similar to his character Maurice, the father of Belle.

“He’s a quirky old man,” Evan said. “He’s not very serious and he doesn’t care about what others think of him, but he does care about his daughter. He cares about what’s important.”

Evan said he has used his father and grandfather as role models for his performance.

For senior Bailey McLaughlin, it is easy to enjoy playing Madame de la Grande Bouche, the enchanted wardrobe who was previously an opera singer.

“She’s hysterical,” Bailey said. “She has a big personality and a big operatic voice. The Madame is very outspoken. I’m also outspoken, but not as much as she is. She wants to be the complete center of attention.”

To junior Bridget Gooley, the enchanted teapot Mrs. Potts is a source of positivity in the Beast’s castle, which she can relate to.

“Like me, Mrs. Potts is very positive and always looking after others, especially her son, Chip,” Bridget said. “She is a motherly figure to Chip and also to everyone else.”

Bridget said playing Mrs. Potts has been enjoyable because Chip is being portrayed by her brother, Ray, who is in sixth grade.

Junior Hunter Stahley sees the enchanted clock Cogsworth as an individual who has the best intentions, but not the best way of expressing them.

“He is very tightly wound, uptight and always stressed out, but he means the best,” Hunter said.

Senior Jordana Paris considers herself to be different from her character Babette, the enchanted feather duster.

“She’s very out there and flirty,” Jordana said. “I’m more reserved.”

The role of Babette requires a French accent. Jordana credits her ability to project an accent to taking French in high school and to being friends with an exchange student from France.

The young woman attributes being able to get into the mindset of a different individual to the chemistry between herself and the character Lumiere, Babette’s romantic interest. By playing off Lumiere, she said she is able to become more like the character Babette, which is the biggest role she has had.

Likewise, junior Zach Elwell sees different sides of himself come out through character interactions when he portrays the enchanted candle Lumiere.

“Lumiere is very suave and smooth,” Zach said. “He can be out there at times, but he is a good person at heart. He and Mrs. Potts are the ones who push the most to break the Beast’s curse. I would say I’m similar, or at least I would like to think I also have charisma and suaveness.”

For senior Maddie Oliver, being part of the musical’s ensemble has its own challenges.

“When you are different characters, you have to know how to change between them,” Maddie said.

The characters played by Maddie include an enchanted flower vase and a villager. She described the flower vase as being elegant, while the villager is an angry individual.

Senior Hanna Duffy, who is part of the dance ensemble, also made note of the challenge of portraying multiple characters.

“Changing costumes throughout the show can be an obstacle, but you get through it,” Hanna said. “And the costumes help with becoming new characters.”

Hanna, who is the dance captain of the show, portrays several enchanted objects in the Beast’s castle, including a napkin, a fork, a plate and a whisk.

Handling the lighting for “Beauty and the Beast” is senior Jamie White, who said the lighting will create a mood for the audience.

“There is a lot of mood lighting in the show,” Jamie said. “It is frequently changing from light to dark. The village is bright, while the beast’s castle is dark. It helps the audience feel like they are really part of the show.”