WEST CHICAGO – The curtain will soon close on the 2013-14 season for WEGO Drama at Community High School in West Chicago, but before it does, students will tell a tale as old as time with its big spring musical.
“Beauty and the Beast” continues the drama program’s theme for this season of “See...Think...Act Differently” by sharing the beloved story of a young woman named Belle who recognized the beauty within a beast.
“This is the perfect musical that embodies those ideas, whether you’re searching to see new places in the world, or you have to learn how to think about somebody differently, or you realize your actions affect somebody differently, it all fits with our season theme,” WEGO Drama Director Mark Begovich said.
“Beauty and the Beast” is the second-to-last show of the season, and it’s the most well-known of this year’s productions.
Performing a musical straight from their peers’ collections of well-worn Disney VHS tapes is exciting for the members of WEGO Drama.
“When I was cast as the Beast, it was this moment of (surrealism). And from day one, I’ve just been asking everyone, ‘Are you excited? Are you excited?’” junior Andrew Steininger said.
But putting on a famous musical like “Beauty and the Beast” comes with challenges as well.
Audience members come in with their own expectations, and WEGO Drama students hope to exceed them.
“People are very familiar with all of the characters and the plot, and they know and love the music, so they have expectations going in, but we’re hoping we can top all of their expectations – fulfill what they want and then give them a little extra,” said junior Noah Watkins, who plays LeFou.
They also put their own spin on the classic Broadway production.
Begovich pushed his students to explore the human side of each of the characters, finding the heart in each member of the cast, whether the character is a plate in the chorus or one of the starring players.
WEGO Drama’s performances also won’t mimic the Broadway show’s choreography, Watkins said.
And while a few costumes will be rented, most are being made by the drama program.
For this musical, WEGO Drama added its first Sunday matinee because of the high demand for tickets. Senior Josué Muñoz, WEGO Drama president, hopes to see at least one show between Thursday and Sunday sell out.
“It’s just about being able to share what we do here and getting people from outside to come and acknowledge and see the work that we do here,” said Muñoz, who plays Lumiere.
With the matinee comes another new element this year: a special opportunity for young theater patrons to interact with some of their favorite characters at an event called Tea with Belle.
Belle and some special guests from the show will eat snacks, do arts and crafts, and enjoy storytime with both boys and girls and their parents.
“We just thought we’d have fun with it,” Begovich said.
Tea with Belle will take place at noon Sunday in the Community High School Commons. Tickets for the tea are separate from show tickets and cost $5.
Overall, Begovich said the 2013-14 school year has been a successful season, and the group is looking forward to finding out next year’s shows, most of which will be announced in a few weeks.
“Each year just seems to bring its own magic,” Begovich said. “I am so pleased with how well our season went.”
If you go
What: "Beauty and the Beast"
When: 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Community High School, 326 Joliet St., West Chicago
Cost: $5 for students, $8 for adults; tickets available at www.wegotheatre.com