LAS High School Invites You to Be Their Guest in Magical Production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

A tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme… familiar lyrics to a popular musical, and lovers of the classic story will get a chance to hear it told anew

Community members are in for a treat when Lowell High School students take the stage in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on March 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 at the Lowell Performing Arts Center.

At the helm of it all, Director Amanita Fahrni is pleased by how much her cast and crew has accomplished since auditions were held in December. Due to winter break and snow days, the production has been squeezed into a tight time frame.

“When you really break it down, we are doing this in about seven weeks,” Fahrni says.

In spite of that, the production is in great shape, and the cast and crew are now in their intense technical week where everything comes together.

Gaston (Harper Postema) is surrounded by his admirers.

Fahrni says her favorite part of directing this show has been watching the students grow into their characters.

“You don’t want to duplicate exactly what’s out there through Disney. You want to bring your own spin,” she says. “So watching them grow into those characters and master them has been amazing. We have quite a young cast and young crew, so another highlight for me is just watching them as they’re learning this process on such a big show.”

Fahrni loves all her students but says one has stood out in particular.

“I love my Beast (Hayden Gough). My Beast, he’s a senior, and you can tell he goes home and he studies his character,” she says. “Every day he’s bringing something new. He’s finding that balance of the Beast being this angry, upset character, but then finding that softness that’s still there. What he has done with that character is just amazing. His passion shows unbelievably.”

With an extremely popular show like Beauty and the Beast, the director and actors need to deal with meeting their audience’s expectations of such a well-loved story. Fahrni admits this is a challenge, but they’ve managed to overcome it by making certain parts of it different while staying true to the specialness of the story.

“What I think we’ve done that makes this show unique is I’ve kept them more as people,” she explains. “For instance, Cogworth’s tie is a clock pendulum. We’re definitely trying to keep that Disney cartoon piece of it and staying true to a lot of those character pieces, but then integrating it kind of in our own special way.”

Belle (Ania Fleszar) and cast members

Fahrni says she enjoys doing this in all her productions. She finds a twist but keeps the show recognizable as to what people love. “I love to bring our own bit to it, and it gives the kids the ownership,” she shares.

The most important thing for Fahrni is that the students take away life lessons from being a part of a theatrical production.

“The problem solving, the improvising, and the working as a huge team and family — those are the big things that I hope they take out of here,” according to Fahrni. “It’s so much more than getting up there and acting.”

Fahrni says Beauty and the Beast is one of the larger productions currently being done by high school and community theaters.

“This is a huge show. When I read and communicate with other directors they say, save Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast for your last show because it’s huge. It taps you out in every area: The sets, the costumes, the dancing, the character building, everything… and the cost.”

But Fahrni does not plan on this production being her last one. “We’re going for it, but I can see why people do it as their last one.”

She adds that this show has been considered multiple times in the past too. “Beauty and the Beast every year has been the maid of honor. It’s been the second choice,” Fahrni says. “My other shows have always ended up for one reason or another beating this thing out. And we finally decided this is the year.”

Director Amanita Fahrni gives her cast instructions before rehearsal.

This is her seventh show as director at LAS. Prior to that, she did assistant choreography and costume designing for three years. She has only ever done theater at Lowell Area Schools and was the varsity cheerleading coach who had “an eye for choreography.” Two years into her choreography stint, there was a need for a costume designer. Fahrni teamed up with her husband to work together in that role, too.

For someone who does not have a theater background, she’s found an interesting path to her current passion of directing high school theater. When she started at LAS 28 years ago, she was a special education teacher, not a cheerleading coach or a theater teacher. She fell into these roles with literally no experience except what she picked up after accepting the jobs.

Her talent for directing and love for working with the students helped her direct some of the other theater biggies like Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, and The Little Mermaid.

Fahrni says she has pushed the student crew members as well as the cast really hard with this show. A full orchestra of volunteer adults will accompany the students during the performances.

Ticket sales are going well with the matinee performance being almost sold out. Fahrni and her cast and crew will be ready.

“They are going to perform an amazing production for our community. It is already exciting.”

Tickets for Beauty and the Beast can be purchased online through ShowTix4U.

1 Comment

  1. Attended the Sunday matinee show and loved it! Lowell’s productions are always outstanding and Beauty and the Beast is no exception! Wonderful singers, costumes, orchestra, sets etc are exceptional. My all time favorite number is “Be our Guest” and the cast did not disappoint! Thank you all for a wonderful performance!

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