Middle schoolers ready to open the curtain for ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Student practice a dance number during a recent rehearsal. The middle school production of “Beauty and the Beast” opens on March 30.



It’s a tale as old as time. Dancing tea pots and candlesticks, a young girl in a provincial town, and a prince trapped in the body of a beast. The music and enchantment of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be brought to life next weekend in the Kennedy middle school auditorium.

Performances will begin at 7 p.m. on March 30 and 31, and April 1, 6, and 7.

The cast includes over 100 students from both Kennedy (JFK) and DePaolo (JAD) middle schools along with a 50-member stage crew. Students from both schools in all three grades have been rehearsing several times each week since December to prepare the show.

JAD vice principal Chris Palmieri, who is also serving as the director, brought the whole cast together to watch the new Beauty and the Beast film.

“Beauty and the Beast” includes all of your favorites, including Gaston, Lumiere, and Cogsworth, above, played by Dylan Camden.

“I rented two private theaters and took the cast and crew to see the movie on opening night,” he said. “Although this was a Broadway play, most of the students are only familiar with the cartoon movie.  I thought this might help give them an actor’s perspective on playing their parts.”

With roughly 150 students from both schools involved in the production, there is something for everyone to do. Building sets, singing in the chorus, dancing to one of the many musical numbers, and handling the tech components, to name a few.

Stage managers Tim Gagne and Sarah Sisto, both JAD eighth graders, have been at every rehearsal making sure things run smoothly. They follow along with scripts in hand and provide feedback to the actors. They also manage the stage crew. With opening night just a week away, the cast is finalizing lines, the crew is setting up the lights, and costumes are being shipped to Southington from New Jersey.

The leads include JFK eighth graders Olivia Lanteri (Belle), Jordan Cyr (Beast), Matthew Luponio (Gaston), Dan Kalvaitis (Lumiere), and JAD eighth graders Grace Michaud (Mrs. Potts), and Dylan Camden (Cogsworth).

Tickets are $8 ($5 for students) and can be purchased from cast members or at the either middle school office. Proceeds from the performances will go toward defraying the costs associated with the production.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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