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Seton School's big ‘Beauty and the Beast’ production

Chris Papas, a student at Oakton High School, reviews “Beauty and the Beast” performed by Seton School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

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Seton School’s Justin Wykowski, Andrew Minarik and Dillon O'Doherty. (Photo by Jim Holmes)

Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl falls in love with boy, despite the fact that he’s actually a hideous monster. “It’s a tale as old as time,” as the song from Disney’s version of “Beauty and the Beast” goes, but the cast and crew at Seton School brought new life to the classic fairy tale.

Adapted from the hit 1991 Disney movie, this stage musical tells the story of the intelligent and pretty Belle (Monica Mosimann)—a young woman trapped in her dreary French village with her father Maurice (Michael Hill) and the testosterone-fueled Gaston (Neil Blanchard). When the horrible beast (Justin Wykowski) locks up Maurice, Belle offers to trade places with her father and becomes a prisoner in the beast’s enchanted castle, where everything from the clock to the candlestick is alive. Over time, the beauty and the beast learn that appearances can be deceiving and that true love can exist between the most unlikely couples.

Mosimann, with her powerful voice, packed a wide range of emotions into Belle’s vocals: from the despair of being ensnared by the beast to the joy of falling in love with the man inside the creature. Her chemistry with Wykowski seemed genuine, and both slowly shifted from the awkwardness that comes with falling in love to the blossoming romance that comes later.

Blanchard also provided a standout performance as Gaston, and won the audience over with his hilarious brand of villainy. Using an array of physical gags (often times involving a display of the human muscular structure), priceless facial expressions and an arrogance that manifested itself even in his voice, Blanchard gave the audience every reason hate Gaston, while making them laugh at him. He made them love to hate him.

Kelly Craige, as Mrs. Potts, was the heart of the show, working well and connecting with each of her cast mates. She played the part of the empathetic teapot with a sweet maternal quality, all while maintaining an impeccable Irish accent, even during her impressive vocal performances.

A large production like “Beauty and the Beast” is difficult enough to pull off with an ensemble of 40 or 50. Seton, however, had a cast of more than 100, often with a large majority on stage at once. The cast rose to the challenge of its size, making large musical numbers like “The Mob Song” seem as if it were not a mob on stage, but rather a well-oiled machine. While some members of the group lacked the focus of others, the overwhelming majority were fully invested in their parts, adding a great deal of depth and detail to the show.

The set utilized the performance space to its fullest, with finely painted backdrops allowing it to represent both the dark gothic castle of the beast and a quaint provincial town in the French countryside. Makeup was particularly effective in transforming the beast into a truly ghastly creature, but still allowing Wykowski to be heard clearly.
Through their large production, Seton made the classic tale completely entertaining and completely theirs.

By Chris Papas, Posted by Mario Iván Oña  |  April 15, 2010; 8:52 AM ET
 | Tags: Cappies 2010  
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