A tale as old as time at Wareham Middle School

Mar 27, 2019

Enchanting voices, lively dances, and vibrant costumes drew guests to two sold out shows at the Wareham Middle School auditorium to watch an adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr.

On Wednesday night, the classic musical love story came to life with the help of 72 WMS Drama Club members, colorful sets, and beloved songs, including “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston,” “Human Again,” and the Tony-winning title song, “Beauty and the Beast.”

WMS Club advisors Jamie Wiksten, Andrea Bridge, and Wendy Brogioli said The Beauty and the Beast, Jr. musical had the biggest cast compared to previous plays put on by the club, including the Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, and Annie, all of which involved on average of 35 to 40 students.

“It is important to to us have as many kids involved as possible and give them an opportunity to be a part of this,” said Wiksten.

Staging a musical with such a large cast was not an easy feat, Wiksten said. To prepare for the shows, the cast rehearsed for five months, and  parents and volunteers spent countless hours sewing and painting.

“Seventy-two kids means 72 costumes, and that’s a lot,” said Wiksten. “My husband built the sets, Andrea and Wendy painted them, and I reached out to community theaters to borrow their costumes, and we had mothers helping to sew the costumes as well. With the collaboration of asking people to lend a hand and help with a few things, we got all our decorations.”

Before getting the role, the cast members underwent three weeks of competitive auditions. Ten girls tried out for Belle while 23 kids wanted to play Chip the teacup. These roles went to Anna Ambarik and Lain Potter. 

Wiksten said the roles were assigned based on the students’ “confidence, vocal ability, and the projection when they read their lines.” But regardless of the outcome, Wiksten praised all the students for their courage.

“Standing on the stage and singing in front of 70 peers is really hard,” said Wiksten. “It is very rewarding for us to watch them go through that process and see them overcome that very nervous moment.”

Whether playing Belle or a minor role such as plate or a villager, the student actors worked hard to deliver a memorable performance.“No matter what we were, we had so much fun doing it,” said Andrew Norris who played the Beast. “You can make best out of anything that you are, any role, any situation in this play. That is why this is so much fun and so interesting.”

Drama Club members come to the theater to learn a variety of valuable life skills, including training confidence, improving communication, and learning to project one’s individuality.

“Through acting, you find in yourself another person. When I came to Drama Club I was so shy and I didn’t know if this was for me, but once you are on the stage, everything comes together,” said Alexandria James, who played Babette. “It is hard to believe that you have these two lives that you live and everybody is so encouraging and everybody loves each other.”