by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Sanibel School Performing Arts students are presenting Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” for two nights in the school’s cafetorium. The award-winning animated film and long-running stage play will come to life in this heart-warming take on the classic fairytale.
“It’s one of my favorite musicals,” said Performing Arts Teacher Joey Giangreco, who is also directing the play. “I love the music and story, which has a great message and theme.”
“Beauty and the Beast Jr.” features some of the most popular songs ever written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, along with new songs by Menken and Tim Rice.
It’s a wonderful adaptation of the story of transformation and tolerance. It tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress.
If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast doesn’t learn his lesson, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.
The play also features many supporting roles, such as the notable enchanted servants in the castle – Cogsworth, Lumiere, Babette, Mrs. Potts and Chip. Giangreco said that makes the show a good fit for the 33 students in his class.
“Many students can be featured in roles,” he said. “It’s a whole cast effort and allows us to do a really lot of fun things throughout the show.”
The middle school students auditioned for parts, which was done very much like in real life. They prepared a portion of a song and speaking part, as well as presented a resume and head shot.
“I like to teach students how to audition in real life,” said Giangreco. “It prepares them for future auditions or job interviews.”
The students have been working hard on the show since January and had to overcome several obstacles since Hurricane Ian closed their school for about four months. Meanwhile, they were at San Carlos Elementary School across the Sanibel Causeway in Fort Myers.
“It was challenging being away from our school for a portion of the process,” said Giangreco. “And our sound system was taken apart from the storm, which was put back together with help from the Pierce family.”
But the students rose above the challenges and are sure to present a phenomenal and joyful performance that will inspire and bring some joy to the island community, Giangreco added.
Thirty-two of the students have a role in the show. Plus, one student will serve as sound technician and assistant. Opening acts will be performances by the Elementary Choir and Orff Club on Thursday and the Seahorse Chorale on Friday.
Curtain is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 25 and Friday, May 26. Tickets can be purchased for $8 at the door.
Giangreco encourages the community to support our island students in this “heart-warming musical about love that sees true beauty.”