Curtain Rises On Beauty and the Beast This Weekend


The Saline High School Drama Club raises the curtain on the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast” this weekend, March 15-17 at the Ellen A. Ewing Performing Arts Center at the high school. The music is by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and the book by Linda Wolverton. The show will feature two seniors, Isaiah Gifford as the Beast and Katie Booher as Belle, the Beauty.

When asked about the show, artistic director and producer, Kristen Glatz explained, “first the show is a real crowd pleaser and you want people to come and watch it. Last year the drama club graduated a lot of seniors, so we wanted to do a show that would attract kids to auditions.”

“Beauty and the Beast” features several roles that are not lead roles but allow the kids to be more than just part of the ensemble,” Glatz said. “This show features a very young cast. There are 40 kids in the cast. 28 are freshmen and sophomores and 12 juniors and seniors.”

Beauty and the Beast is a challenging play vocally. The music features several songs that will delight audiences but will be challenging for the actors and actresses to pull off. Vocal director Jane Panikkar has been working with the cast since rehearsals began in January. Sarah Altenburg is the music director and will conduct the orchestra. Lisa Holland choreographed the show while Saline High School 2020 alum Claudia Curcione is the assistant director.

At its core, Beauty and the Beast is a love story. High school students are all pretty much songs waiting to be sung. So, Gifford was asked how he prepared for a love story. A very different kind of love story. His response reflected a maturity, and wisdom, far beyond his 17 years.

“The Beast is angry, but at his core he is lonely. And he wants desperately to be human. All of his years of being alone produced the beast in him,” Gifford said. “When Belle helps him, begins to show him love, he realizes that is what he wants. And the audience will begin to see that side of him start to emerge.”

Gifford said he enjoyed exploring the Beast’s return to humanity. “Everyone wants to belong. To experience love. To be a part of something.” Gifford was asked if he had ever experienced love. With a smile on his face, he replied simply, “yes.”

Jeff Daniels, a graduate of Chelsea High School, and a star of films and the Broadway stage told the audience at a recent Unplugged Concert performance about a song he wrote called “God’s Little Mistake.” “In high school, every kid searches for a tribe to belong to,” Daniels said. “You have the jocks, the academics, the band kids, the shop crew and the nomads.  I finally found my tribe with the theatre kids. There were two other guys who liked theatre and thank God for them. But I finally found my tribe in the theatre and it made all the difference.”

Gifford, like the Beast, and all 40 cast members are in their search for their tribe. And Director Glatz has created the perfect environment for each kid to find their path. What makes Giffford a bit unusual is he belongs to a couple of very different tribes. He has played football for four years, the last two as a starting tackle on the offensive line. And he has sung in the choir for all four years in school. Beauty and the Beast represents his first appearance on the stage for the drama club. Very different tribes. A unique young man.

Tickets can be purchased online. They are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors 65+ and for all SAS staff members. All seats are general admission. It is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Don’t miss it.

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