Scarlett Keppen has always felt a little nervous about auditions for the high school musical. She’d shake. Her voice would crack. She’d get emotional and terrified.
Up on stage, surrounded by about 30 classmates, there were no signs of anxiety as the Marion Central School Players rehearsed Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” set for March 6-7.
The Marion senior, who played on the girls championship soccer team, said the nerves never go away, but she’s able to manage it all with hours of watching video, going over lines, and working on dance and vocals.
“The more prepared you are, the better,” she said. “I made sure I watched the full version of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ getting the sense of how others did it. It was better for me because it wasn’t like I was being thrown into this pool of people who all knew what they were doing and I was lost.”
Keppen plays Belle, a young independent woman from a provincial town who falls in love with the Beast, a young prince cursed to remain hideous until he can learn to love again.
“I’m not an angry person, so I have been working on trying to show that,” said senior Drew Holahan, who plays the Beast. “When I’m on stage, I try to think, ‘How upsetting can I be to this person.’”
The musical calls for several cast members to step out of character. Junior Michael Hamill plays Gaston, the evil, maniacal and narcissistic hunter after Belle.
“Basically, he thinks nobody is good enough for him,” Hamill said. “I start with what the script calls for. Eventually, as we keep on doing the lines, I put my own twist on it and do different inflections and make it my own. I make it Michael’s Gaston. I learn their lines, too, and it sort of flows and makes it so much easier.”
Derek Adriannsen is Lumiere, the French maitre d’ turned into a candelabra. In rehearsals, he keeps his arms up during dances or while strutting around the castle to resemble a candle holder. Katelynn Augello plays the flirtatious feather duster, Babette. Sharon Jaramillo is Ms. Potts, the maternal enchanted teapot. Mack Brewington is the talking clock Cogsworth and Alexis Schultz is Chip, the talking tea cup.
If the Beast finds love, they, too, will have their curses lifted unless Gaston is able to have his way.
“The kids run the whole thing,” said Shelly Thompson, the show’s director and choreographer. “No adults are backstage. The kids run the lights. They are the stage crew. Because it’s a professionally run high school show, they really get the true experience. They are prepared. It is hard work, but it is so much fun in the end.”
Auditions were held in October. Rehearsals started soon after, making the musical season longer than most athletic seasons. They gather in large groups and more individualized sessions, and are asked to come in after school and on Saturdays.
The student actors are not alone. Parent volunteers donate their time to hand-stitch costumes, build the set, make dinner for rehearsals or help out in other ways.
“The Marion community, in general, just embraces the musical,” Holahan said. “They come out for Frau (Mrs. Thompson). She just has this effect of hooking onto people and then attaching them to the program. Everyone appreciates the opportunities we have in this show.”
Holahan and Keppen have been friends since middle school, having worked on the spring musical previously. As seniors, this is their last show.
“Sometimes when he is all beasty and yelling, it is very hard for me to keep … I am just dying laughing because it is funny,” Keppen said. “It is hard not to laugh at him. It is amazing to me that we got to this point. It’s your last of everything. It hits the heart a little harder. It is bittersweet.”
“Beauty and the Beast” will run at 8 p.m. on March 6-7 and 2 p.m. on March 7 in the Marion High School Auditorium, 4034 Warner Road. Tickets cost $8 and are available at the school.