Beauty and the Beast – Haverford High School in Haverford, PA
March 8, 2016
Review by: Cassie Bolinger of Bordentown Regional High School
This weekend, the Haverford Drama Club brought the alluring beauty and mysticism of 18th century France to their auditorium in suburban Pennsylvania through their production of Beauty and the Beast.
This musical, based on the Disney film, first premiered on Broadway in 1994 with music by Alan Menken and book by Linda Woolverton. The “tale as old as time” follows a beautiful woman and terrifying Beast who both learn that appearances can be deceiving as they fall in love.
Starring as the beautiful Belle, Issy Swantak enchanted the audience with her melodious voice and endearing character. She had undeniable chemistry with Dylan Winoski who masterfully belted passionate songs as the misunderstood Beast.
Every fairytale needs an evil villain, the role of which was delightfully filled by Colin McCrossan as Gaston. McCrossan’s smooth bravado and killer vocals showed a dedication to character that made him a true stand out. Although the audience hated his character for his misogynistic tendencies and brute actions, they could not help but cheer on McCrossan’s stunning performance.
Essential to the beloved magical element of the show were the servants turned household objects of the Beast’s castle. Mrs. Potts (Tess Mallon) proved to be a showstopper, taking away the audience’s breath in her romantic song “Beauty and the Beast”. Her son Chip, (Julie Fosco) utilized perfect comedic timing in an adorable performance. Cogsworth (Jack Denman) elicited more than a few laughs as the “tightly wound” carriage clock, and Lumiere (Josh Angell) impressed with his unwavering accent and amusing dynamic with the charming Babette (Chloe Datner).
Additional stand outs included Danny Murphy as Belle’s eccentric father Maurice, Jack Feder as Gaston’s hilarious sidekick Lefou, and Gaston’s female groupies, The Silly Girls, played by Leanne McGroary, Jenna Miele, and Audrey Trajano.
With a cast of ninety-five, the Haverford Drama Club faced both a blessing and a challenge. Blocking so many people on stage is a precarious venture, yet Haverford completed it with success, ensuring that every enthusiastic cast member could shine. Student Molly Thornton created extraordinary choreography that catered to the large cast and flowed dynamically with expression of the story. The dancers and singers alike have the student pit orchestra and their student conductor Cindy Hosan to thank for masterfully playing the show’s spell binding score.
Although the hours of hard work that went into this production from all involved probably felt beastly, the final product was purely beauty!
Review by: Jamie Cohen of West Chester East High School
The musical fantasy, Beauty and the Beast, is a childhood favorite for many. Haverford High School’s Drama Club brought this memory back to life in their recent production of this timeless tale with music written by Alan Menken and book by Linda Woolverton.
When an arrogant prince becomes the victim of an enchantress’ spell, he is turned into a beast and all of his servants become household objects. In order to break this spell, the beast is told he must learn to love and be loved. However, considering he now looks as unpleasant as he acts, this is not an easy task. When all hope seems lost, Belle, an outcast in her own way, falls into the Beast’s life and changes both their lives forever.
The cast was filled with powerful lead actors. Both Belle (Issy Swantak) and the Beast (Dylan Winoski) displayed commanding vocals in their ballads, “A Change in Me”, sung by Swantak and “If I Can’t Love Her” sung by Winoski.
However, most praiseworthy was the show-stopping supporting characters. Mrs. Potts (Tess Mallon) graced the stage with a heartwarming, motherly charm and truly brought the magic in her lovely performance of “Beauty and The Beast.” The show was enhanced with two outstanding comedic duos. The egotistical Gaston (Colin McCrossan) and his foolish sidekick LeFou (Jack Feder) had the audience laughing every time they interacted. The vibrant Lumiere (Josh Angell) and uptight Cogsworth (Jack Denman) perfectly contrasted one another and provided humorous banter throughout the show. Cogsworth especially is to be applauded for his ability to transform an often overlooked character into a crowd favorite.
Haverford must be commended for its abundance of student direction. Music director Jack Denman, choreographer Molly Thornton, and conductor Cindy Hosan were all students, as was the entire pit orchestra which was spot on from the Prologue to the Finale. Also impressive was the student designed and built set which expertly captured the Beast’s extravagant castle.
With an enormous cast, the volume in group numbers was at times underwhelming, with the exception of a strong finale. They truly excelled in the battle scene, in which Gaston’s mobsters attempted an attack on the castle and the servants successfully outwitted them. Other ensemble highlights included the complex Prologue and the lively “Gaston.”
Haverford Drama Club effectively honored the timeless story and demonstrated the importance of being fearless, accepting, and most of all, being yourself.