Tonawanda News

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March 5, 2013

Tale as old as time

Ken West takes on classic story of 'Beauty and the Beast'

Tonawanda News — KENMORE — Sometimes it’s good to be The Beast.

He may start out as a bit unpleasant — and there’s a lot of pressure in portraying a character who’s the very image on the show’s poster — but there’s a sort of catharsis in being, well, a beast.

“It’s just so much fun to play,” said Brian Page, the senior who plays the character in Kenmore West High School’s rendition of the musical. “If I’ve had a bad day, I can just let go and yell in rehearsal.”

Ken West will present “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” from Thursday through Saturday at the school. The musical, which features the talents of more than 70 students in the cast, orchestra and backstage, is directed and produced by teacher Philip Jarosz.

This is Jarosz’s seventh musical as director, following “Funny Girl” in 2012, “Into the Woods” in 2011 and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” in 2010.

“I try to mix up which shows we do each year,” he said. “We haven’t really done a family show in a long time, not since ‘Wizard of Oz,’ which was in 2006. I thought it was time to do another family show. We try to get the kids a good mix of musicals, a good educational experience in their four years here.”

The show features one of the biggest sets constructed at the school, including a movable tower on wheels for the The Beast’s castle, and a chandelier so big it’s created some transportation issues.

Jarosz called the Disney production a “classic musical” even though it was written in the 1990s ... and noted that it’s about far “more than just a cartoon princess who’s after her prince.”

“You can take it for the cartoon that it is, or you can take it for the realness behind the characters,” he said. “The Beast grows up, like a kid grows up ... and Belle changes as a character, like everyone who wants more than what they have, to find a bigger world.”

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