“Beauty and the Beast” Dazzles Audience at Walpole High


Students perform in “Beauty and the Beast”.

Julia Sandquist

Students perform in "Beauty and the Beast".
Students perform in “Beauty and the Beast”.

The classic Disney song “Be Our Guest” was fit for the Walpole High School Drama Club’s most recent performance, as it entertained a crowded auditorium during the annual spring musical. The group’s production of Beauty and the Beast attracted audience members of all ages to the WHS auditorium for their performances on Friday, March 14; Saturday, March 15; and Sunday, March 16. Over the course of three months, the drama club worked tirelessly to bring the popular Disney tale to life and ensure a successful turnout.

Ticket sales during lunch surged in the days leading up to opening night, and the Drama Club sold a total of 1400 tickets for the three weekend performances. Their efforts sold out the first two shows completely and allowed for a nearly full auditorium on Sunday afternoon. Over 160 hours of rehearsals, set-design, and choreography was required to make this musical a success; since the start of the second semester, students stayed several hours after school every afternoon to perfect the piece.

Not straying far from the plot of the Disney version, Director Jim D’Attilio’s stage adaptation of Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Belle (played by junior Michelle Murray), a young French commoner who has an unlikely romance with a seemingly cold-hearted Beast. The monster, played by freshman Greg Bond, is a recluse who is desperate for a loving relationship with Belle in order to reverse the enchantress’s curse that transformed him into a terrifying creature many years before. Meanwhile, an arrogant young bachelor named Gaston (played by junior Brian Tracey) also vies for Belle’s heart and is prepared to take drastic measures to win her affection. In the end, Belle chooses Beast and warms his lonesome heart, thus returning him to his natural state as a handsome prince. And as all beloved fairy tales end, the two live happily ever after.

The dramatic lighting and realistic special effects running throughout the course of the musical brought the story to life, especially in the dramatic forest scene. Director Jim D’Attilio chose to swap out traditional painted scenery for darker lighting that casted shadows of eerie-looking trees—a technique that effectively enhanced the scene’s ominous mood.

Freshman Greg Bond—the youngest actor to receive a lead part—said, “although the classic story was a lot of fun to help bring to life, the show was super stressful because I felt like I had to do as well as an experienced upperclassman would.” Though the Drama Club expected the audience to enjoy watching a familiar Disney princess story, taking on the task of retelling a popular children’s tale demanded extra time and attention to detail, as it required the cast to contribute a tremendous effort to ensure that the production lives up to the viewers’ expectations. Mr. D’Attilio said, “what made this show so appealing to the audience—much of which is comprised of local families— is that it has a musical score by some of the best in the business with several very well-known songs and lots of dance and singing opportunities.” In addition to lively music numbers, the intricate and extravagant costumes worn by many of the actors added to the ambiance of the musical.

Referencing the often unseen but equally important work behind the scenes, Mr. D’Attilio said, “we had to deal with calendar planning and coordination between dance music and staging, extensive backstage planning, set building, cue writing, lighting, public relations, ticket selling, prop coordinating, and program making, just to name a few. Then we focused on costumes, costumes, and more costumes.” Mr. D’Attilio spent an extensive amount of time behind the curtain—much of which the audience does not actually see on stage. Sophomore Lauren Wigren, a member of the ensemble, said, “Mr. D’Attilio put in a great deal of effort into making the show a success; it became his top priority for three months and it paid off.”

After a musical as well-received as this spring’s production of Beauty and the Beast, the WHS Drama Club hopes to generate as much excitement for its next production, a series of comedic pieces that is scheduled to be performed in May.