Best unleashes Disney's Beast

Philip Nelson is Le Fou and Robert Harvey (in red) is Gaston in the Best Players
Philip Nelson is Le Fou and Robert Harvey (in red) is Gaston in the Best Players' Beauty and the Beast, running this month at Dr. Charles Best secondary in Coquitlam.

Rachael Norman has trained extensively in musical theatre, having started with Coquitlam’s Lindbjerg Academy of Performing Arts. At the age of 10, she was cast in the company’s ensemble of The Wizard of Oz; three years later, Norman was an orphan in Annie for the Footlight Theatre and the next year she played Mayzie LaBird in Seussical forw C.A.P.A.

But when it came to her Grade 12 year at Dr. Charles Best secondary in Coquitlam, Norman felt she had missed the high school production experience so, last fall, she auditioned for — and won the lead part of — Belle in the Best Players’ Beauty and the Beast.

“It was great when I got it because, when I leave here, it’ll be something that I will always remember,” she said.

The 17-year-old actress plays opposite Beau Picard, a Grade 12 student who will portray the Beast for the musical that also features 35 other Grade 9 to 12 students. The stagecraft class as well as musicians under the direction of Brent Hughes are also involved.

Drama teacher Brad Case said having so many cast and crew participate is exciting. “It’s really important for the kids to be involved in the immediacy of live theatre,” he added.

The costumes were borrowed from Lindbjerg and Heritage Woods secondary in Port Moody, which put on the musical last year.

Based on the 1991 Disney movie, the all-ages musical tells the tale of a young woman named Belle, a bookworm who is wooed by Gaston, a hunter and town hero who loves her only for her looks and not her brains. Later, Belle tracks down her father, who is locked away in a castle in the woods, and makes a deal with the Beast to exchange her freedom for her father’s. The pair become friends and, eventually, fall in love.

• The Best Players’ Beauty and the Beast runs May 1 to 4, and May 8 to 11 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at $15/$12 are available at the door of the school (2525 Como Lake Ave.). A special show will be held on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. to benefit the Crossroads Hospice Society. Admission for kids under 13 is free with a paying adult at the matinee.




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