Volume 10 Week 10

Sunday, Dec. 14


Updated March 2

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





(Posted 3:30 p.m., March 5)

St. Peter Players production a musical feast
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

The St. Peter Players are performing the Disney musical 'Beauty and the Beast' all this week in the cafetorium of St. Peter High School on Charlemagne Blvd. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Before I get to my review of the St. Peter Players production of “Beauty and the Beast”, I should admit that I am one of the few parents of multiple children who has never read the book or seen the movie.

I knew “about” the story, of course, but I had never actually read it or seen it until Wednesday night when I went to the opening of the St. Peter Players production of the Disney musical.

For those of you who don’t know, the story of “Beauty and the Beast” revolves around two main characters – the beautiful Belle and the prince who has been turned into a hideous beast by an enchantress who he rebuffed when she asked to take shelter in his castle in exchange for a rose. The spell cast on the prince extended to everyone living in the castle who were slowly turning into inanimate objects.

After casting the spell, the enchantress left behind a rose. If the prince could somehow convince someone to fall in love with him before the last petal fell off the rose, the spell would be broken.

Early on in the play, Belle’s father Maurice gets lost on his way to a fair and stumbles upon the prince’s castle. When the Beast discovers him inside the castle, he locks him in a dungeon.

When Belle discovers that her father is missing she goes to find him and in doing so stumbles upon the castle as well. In exchange for her father’s freedom, Belle agrees to remain at the castle forever.

Belle’s presence sends a wave of excitement through the castle’s servants who are slowly turning into inanimate objects. They realize that if the prince can somehow fall in love with Belle and she reciprocates his feelings, they will all be freed from the spell. But back in the village, the play’s villain, Gaston, has hatched a plan to force Belle to marry him by having Maurice locked in an asylum.

Over the course of time the Beast slowly falls in love with Belle, but he is afraid to tell her for fear that she will reject him.

When Gaston finds out about the Beast he rounds up the villagers to go kill him. In the end it is Gaston who is killed and Belle confesses her love for the Beast which immediately breaks the spell.

The St. Peter Players are production of 'Beauty and the Beast' features Lydia Barrett as Belle and Charles Douglas as the Beast. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The story contains all the elements of a classic fairy tale – mystery, suspense, romance, and above all else a happy ending. But to truly bring the story to life you need actors and singers who can deliver. Fortunately the St. Peter Players production was blessed with several outstanding voices starting with Lydia Barrett who played Belle.

Barrett’s performance of “A Change in Me” was absolutely spell-binding. Charles Douglas, who plays the Beast, was also superb, although the audience didn’t get to hear him until midway through the play.

Together the pair were almost as magical as the story itself. Interestingly enough, their two older siblings, Hannah Barrett and Stuart Douglas, played the romantic leads in the St. Peter Players 2004 production of “Les Misérables” which is still one of the best plays the company has ever presented.

Among the other lead actors, Austrian exchange student Robin Jentys was terrific as Lumiére, as was Michael Heney, who played Cogsworth, but Amber Forgie was off the charts as Babette. Her performance was deserving of three bravos. And while she doesn’t have very many lines, St. Peter Player veteran Sarah MacDonald can be proud of her performance as the wardrobe which was a delight despite its brevity.

Kudos as well to Kyle Aubrecht-Kerr who had the unenviable task of portraying the dastardly Gaston. Of all the roles in “Beauty and the Beast” it is by far the most complex, requiring the right mix of bravado, obnoxiousness and arrogance without being too far over the top. Aubrecht-Kerr played the role to a “T” and was in fine voice as well.

The remainder of the cast included Sarah Algozino as Mrs. Potts, Eric Kavcic as Chip, Ryan Binsell as Le Fou, Alanna Bale as the Enchantress, Sean Payton-Stewart as Maurice and Jessyca Lalumiere, Denise St. Pierre and Siobhan Kelly as the lovestruck village girls, who did a stellar job as well. But the unsung stars of the production were the members of the orchestra who were on top of their game during Wednesday’s performance.

One of the things that has separated past St. Peter productions from other high school plays has been their costuming, set design, and sound which were extraordinary as always.

Finally, no review of “Beauty and the Beast” would be complete without commenting on the big ensemble numbers, “Be Our Guest” and “The Mob Song”. The choreography was top notch during both pieces, especially considering the number of people who were on the stage, and the songs were well-delivered by the chorus members.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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