AHS students perform Beauty and the Beast

Trevor Kendall as LeFou, left, bolsters the male ego of Justin O’Hara as Gaston, during the Arlington High School Drama Department’s March 3 performance of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ - Kirk Boxleitner
Trevor Kendall as LeFou, left, bolsters the male ego of Justin O’Hara as Gaston, during the Arlington High School Drama Department’s March 3 performance of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The Arlington High School Drama Department heads into its second weekend of performances of “Beauty and the Beast” armed with an experienced, enthusiastic cast and one of the most elaborate sets in the school’s history.

“This is a very talented, mature cast,” AHS Drama teacher Scott Moberly said. “Our male chorus is as deep and talented as I have ever seen.”

Given that many of the scene changes and technical cues, such as lighting and fog, are embedded in the music of the show, Moberly emphasized the importance of everyone working in sync, to the point that the stage managers have to listen to the music to anticipate exactly when to include specific effects.

AHS junior Bailey Hudson, who made her debut appearance on the stage of the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center as Belle on March 2, already knew that the musical play would be well outside of the comfort zone she’d developed from performing in the Jazzmine jazz choir, but she was inspired by the encouragement she received, not only from friends and family members who advised her to audition, but also from her fellow actors in the play.

“They’re such great, creative people,” Hudson said. “I have a passion for music, and it’s good to share this passion with other students who have the same interests.”

By contrast, AHS senior Kelsey Ghirardo, who plays Madame de la Grande Bouche, has taken part in the Drama Department’s musicals for four years, and has also participated in three of the 10-minute play festivals. She nonetheless found significant challenges of her own in her role.

“My character is a huge foam core box with limited movement,” Ghirardo said. “It’s been the most fun learning all the blocking and choreography, and then adapting my physical predicament with comedic character choices when she’s unable to do certain things. When I have my character strike a pose, I can’t merely shift my hips, so I have to contort my body to make the foam core casing tilt sideways.”

Fellow AHS senior Austin McFadden, whose costume as Lumiere includes two large, lit “candles” over his hands, has drawn upon what he sees as his character’s “limitless energy” to propel his performances.

“One day, I was just acting crazy on stage, just for fun, and Moberly came up to me and said, ‘That’s it,’” McFadden said. “The best part about my character is that I have permission to goof around and have fun, as long as I do it in character.”

Although she’s not nearly as voracious a reader as Belle, Hudson likewise has found ways of connecting to her character emotionally.

“She’s a little stubborn and can have an attitude here and there,” Hudson said. “Being a teenager, that was very relatable for me. It’s so interesting for me to completely turn myself into a new person in this role. She has such a thirst for adventure and something bigger than what she has in her life, and I think that’s something anyone watching can relate to.”

Hudson agreed with Moberly that the story of “Beauty and the Beast” is a timeless classic.

“You don’t have to be a 5-year-old girl to enjoy this show,” Hudson said. “I still love ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and Belle today, even though I’m 17.”

“People young and old know this story and the songs, and come in anticipating something special,” Moberly said. “Based on the first weekend, they’re leaving very exhilarated and cheering all the way to the parking lot.”

“Beauty and the Beast” will start at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, with a 1 p.m. matinee on March 10, at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $8 for children, students and seniors, and $12 for adults, and may be purchased in advance at


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