Quebec High School presents a Beauty of a musical

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Photo: Sarah Barclay

The cast of Beauty and the Beast take their final bows to a standing ovation at Quebec High School. 

The Secondary IV and V students of Quebec High School’s music theatre class staged their presentation of Beauty and the Beast last weekend, in the school’s Webster Auditorium.

 As the room went dark and the lights came up, the room crackled with nervous energy. This was the culmination of a whole school-year’s work, although, as QHS principal Warren Thomson explains, in the week before their performances, “The kids were eating it, breathing it, living it; they were working hard.”  

Thomson also points out the teamwork that went into the ambitious project, listing the efforts of the student technical crew, the artistic talents of the students who drew the background images projected onto a screen, and even a particular prop used by Maurice the inventor (Belle’s father). His “invention” was in fact a fully functioning machine designed to chop wood, built by the Science Concentration students. 

Director David Rompré, a music teacher at QHS for the past 19 years, beams with pride at the group effort that culminated in a two-night run and three matinées for elementary school audiences. He admits to feeling fairly calm going into opening night; “The crunch was Tuesday and Wednesday,” Rompré explains, “that’s when I feel more pressure because that’s when things have to happen; and if they don’t happen then, we lose momentum.”  

Momentum was definitely not a problem going into the opening group number, where we are introduced to Belle and to her friendly, albeit provincial, French village. Erika Sheridan, who portrayed Belle on Friday night (Saturday’s performance was sung by Naomi Wiesner), wowed the audience with her powerful voice, while her cast-mates charmed with their tongue-in-cheek lines and physical comedy. 

Although each cast member had noteworthy moments of singing, dancing, and acting, there were a few performances that deserve particular mention: James Parsons and Kieran Thomson shared impeccable comedic timing as Cogsworth and Lumière, the stalwart house servants; Laurie Thibault stole every scene as LeFou, the goofy sidekick of Gaston (Lukas Alutalu); and Charles Bouchard managed to shine from inside his cumbersome “Beast” costume, effortlessly singing duets and dancing with Belle.

As their director, Rompré pronounced himself impressed, explaining that at a certain point in rehearsals, “you think we’ve reached the maximum [potential], but no, they still have surprises left.” He went on to claim: “Even tonight, I could feel they were taking chances on stage, so that’s fantastic. It’s all about the learning.” 

Principal Thomson, obviously still moved by his son Kieran’s performance, echoes Rompré’s statement: “What amazes me is how [Rompré and his colleagues] can convince a 15-year-old boy to get up on stage and sing in front of a full house…. That’s something that will stay with them their whole life.” 

Judging by the applause and the many photographs taken at the end of the evening, it seems as though the performance will, in fact, be remembered by all.