A tale as old as time – full of romance, magic, humour and battle – will be coming to audiences in 100 Mile House in the new year.
The Peter Skene Ogden Drama Club is hard at work rehearsing for their production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, set to hit the stage in mid-January.
It’s an ambitious production choice, with close to a dozen songs over the 60-minute run time and many students playing more than one role, according to drama teacher Bria Jupe. But while the musical poses no shortage of challenges for the cast and crew, Jupe said the older students in the club were determined to tackle the play from the outset of the school year.
“The Grade 12s really knew what they wanted and were very adamant about doing this particular musical,” Jupe said. “They are so in love with drama and they really pushed for it, and I’m happy to accommodate them in any way I can.”
The musical is based on the popular 1991 Disney fairytale, which tells the story of a prince living in a castle under a curse that has transformed him into a monster, and a young woman named Belle who discovers the Beast when she is searching for her father.
READ MORE: HAPHAZARD HISTORY: Peter Skene Ogden
Also living within the castle walls are the prince’s staff, who have also been transformed into household objects such as Lumiere (a candelabra), Cogsworth (a clock), Mrs. Potts (a teapot) and her son, Chip (a teacup).
Melody Watkins has been cast as Belle while Evan Kalmokoff plays the Beast and Kyle Lawrence has taken the role of Gaston, the arrogant hunter who is vying for Belle’s affections.
While putting on such a large-scale musical production is an ambitious task, Jupe said the older drama students have stepped up to the plate to help out, beyond just performing.
“Melody is classically vocally trained, so she has taken on the leadership role of musical director as well,” Jupe said, noting Liam Guimond will fill the role of stage manager, Sarah Carter will be the show’s fight choreographer and Klaudie Slosarkova is acting as the show’s costume director.
“I’m more than happy to designate leadership roles to those who are ready and willing to take them on. The Grade 12s are really full-on with this production and they’re a dream to work with.”
And while not all students in the drama club – comprising Grades 10, 11 and 12 – are strong singers, Jupe said the performers are finding workarounds that fit the theme of a whimsical, humorous Disney production.
“There are some stretches for the students who aren’t necessarily singers, but we are getting through that by really emphasizing the comedy and drama aspect of it,” she explained.
Another challenge facing the drama troupe has been a lack of venue to perform the production. With Martin Exeter Hall currently under repairs due to flooding, Jupe faced some uncertainty early in the school year as to where they’d be able to host the musical.
Luckily, she said, volunteers at the 100 Mile Community Hall have been able to accommodate the group. Plans are in the works to move in around Jan. 10, and spend about a week building the sets and setting up a lighting system before the play debuts around Jan. 17.
Volunteers from the 100 Mile Performing Arts Society have also reached out to lend a hand with the show, Jupe said.
“Everybody has been so supporting and welcoming, and there’s been a lot of help so far,” she said.
The play will run for a week in mid-January, with exact dates and times to be confirmed. Tickets will be $10 each and will go on sale closer to the performance dates. Jupe said she and the students hope the community supports the production and all the hard work that has gone into getting it ready for the stage.
“If you come to the show, you’re going to see a wonderful group of students putting on a classic tale that everybody knows,” she said.