Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, March 23


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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney




(Updated 1:30 p.m., March 10)
St. Peter HS production of animated Disney classic a real beauty

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The St. Peter High School production of Beauty and the Beast featured Asia Csabi in the lead role of Belle and Mitchell Schick as Gaston. Fred Sherwin/Photo

When it comes to high school musical theatre, the St. Peter High School musical theatre program is the gold standard. Further proof of this was their production of Beauty and the Beast which recently wrapped up a four-night run at the Shenkman Arts Centre.

By my count, this is the ninth St. Peter musical production that I have had the pleasure of attending in as many years and I can honestly say it was one of the best. Not because any one performance stood out from the others, although Asia Csabi was phenomenal as Belle. Not because of the live orchestra, which was on point throughout the four performances. Not because of the impeccable sound enhanced by the acoustics of the Harold Shenkman Hall. But because of the ensemble cast which could give any professional musical theatre company a run for their money.

The bar was set exceptionally high from the opening performance of "Belle", and continued through the first half of the play with performances of "Gaston" and "Be Our Guest" which is one of my personal favourites.

The cast was at their best, however, during the second half of the play which features such endearing numbers as "Human Again", "Transformation" and the "Beauty and the Beast (Reprise)" finale.

The St. Peter production was actually a reprisal of the school's 2009 production of the Disney musical which was staged in the school cafetorium and featured Lydia Barrett in the lead role of Belle, and Charles Douglas as the Beast.

Csabi was every bit as good as Barrett and Clarence Jura delivered a strong performance as the Beast. Other performances that stood out included Brandon Mainville and Jarrad Haas as Lumiere and Cogsworth; Sydney Maloney as the Wardrobe; and Benjamin Massey as Lefou.

The role of Gaston, who wants to kill the Beast and marry Belle, was played by Mitchell Schick with just the right mix of arrogance, obnoxiousness and bravado, without going too far over the top. He was also in fine voice during his performances of "Me" with Belle, and "Gaston (Reprise)" with Lefou.

Special mention should also be made about Kaity Schieman who played Mrs. Potts and delivered a magical solo performance of "Beauty and the Beast" during the second act.

The remainder of the lead cast included Liam Bernier as Belle's father Maurice; Caitlin Munro as Babette; Manoha Jean-Baptiste as Chip; and Kat Armstrong as Mme. D'Arque.

The production itself had everything, including lots of great lines and several extremely humourous moments between Cogsworth, Lumiere and the Beast.

Given the fact that the rest of the cast was so strong I would be remiss if I didn't mention them by name. The company included Emily Howran, Anna Dale and Angie Wehbe, who played the "Silly Girls" and was rounded out by Kayla Bernier, Hannah Decker, Jamie Elliot, Calista Guy, Ariya Lawrence, Cassie Luk, Aleksandra Lukie, Anya Perry and Rebecca Valade.

St. Peter does not take part in the Cappies program, which allows students to critique other students, out of principle, which is understandable on the one hand, but robs the students of critical acclaim by their peers, on the other. So I'll provide them with the critical acclaim they so richly deserve.

The 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast is right up there with other outstanding St. Peter musical theatre productions like Little Shop of Horrors (2010), Phantom of the Opera (2011) and Tarzan (2015).

The timing of the St. Peter production couldn't have been more perfect, either, with the Disney remake of Beauty and the Beast scheduled to open in theatres on March 17. The live-action remake of the popular animated film will likely be a box office smash, but frankly I'll pass. I'll take live theatre over a movie anytime, and especially if it features the talented group of students at St. Peter High School.

The ensemble cast in the St. Peter High School production of Beauty and the Beast is one of the best the school has ever put on stage. Fred Sherwin/Photo

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


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