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Bringing out the beauty and beast in all

Thurston Middle School students ready for their production of the classic fairy tail.

January 31, 2013|By Bryce Alderton
  • Elliet Glade, who plays Belle, center, and Marty Williams, as Lumiere, left, rehearse a scene from Thurston Middle School's performance of Disney's "Beauty And The Beast" on Wednesday.
Elliet Glade, who plays Belle, center, and Marty Williams,… (KEVIN CHANG, Coastline…)

The work began in October for Thurston Middle School eighth-grade students. Fast forward to Wednesday and the dress rehearsal inside the school's "black box" or theater room, for "Beauty and the Beast," was in full effect.

Twenty-seven drama students donned intricate costumes with guidance from director Mark Dressler and choreographer Erika Whalen.

"This is their first day in costume when they're not allowed to stop," said Whalen, who alternated between directing students toward their proper places on stage, and taking notes in the audience chairs. Nearly 60 students from two periods have practiced during school hours for the performance that opens at 4 p.m. Friday. The 27 students practicing Wednesday were from the period one class.

Dressler, who has taught drama at the school for 20 years, gave a pep talk before the rehearsal.

"You have to keep going [through the mistakes]," Dressler told the cast members gathered around him in a circle on stage. "Let's see how creative you are to get through a mistake. Practice creative ways of solving problems."

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The play, based on the classic fairy tail adopted into a Disney movie Broadway musical, begins with a beggar woman offering a young prince a rose in exchange for a night's shelter. When the prince refuses, the woman punishes him by turning him into a beast and his servants into household items. She gives him a rose that will bloom until the beast's 21st birthday. The beast must love and be loved before the rose's petals have fallen off or he will remain a beast forever.

The play progresses to the scene of a French marketplace with merchants selling bread and cheese. "Belle," played by Elliet Glade, looks for a book to read.

Dressler interjected, "I'm not seeing any exaggeration of character."

Belle's father Maurice, played by Jonah Reynolds, enters the scene, a dark forest, and is surrounded by wolves. The wolves grab Maurice's scarf and scatter. Maurice stumbles upon the beast's castle and is led in by the transformed servants Lumiere, a candelabra, Cogsworth, a clock, Mrs. Potts, a teapot and her son Chip, a teacup.

Three ladies enter and chase Gaston, an arrogant local hunter played by Clancy Cooper. Gaston desires Belle and flaunts his strength next to his friend, Lefou, played by Noah Schucking. Cooper dressed in green trousers, black boots, a black leather vest and a curly black-haired wig.

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