Dartmouth High Theatre Company to open 'Beauty and the Beast'
Dartmouth High School sophomore Olivia Levasseur’s favorite princess growing up was Belle from Beauty and the Beast,, and now she will be portraying the famous character in the school theatre company’s rendition of the Disney classic.
Involved in theater since the first grade through South Coast Children's Theatre, she cried when she first heard the news that she had secured the leading role in her favorite Disney movie’s musical adaptation.
“She is very powerful,” Levasseur said. “She knows what she wants, and I just love getting to play her.”
It’s also required Levasseur to get accustomed to the unique, refined voice of a Disney princess, which can be challenging.
“I mumble my words together and I stutter a lot,” Levasseur said. “She’s a princess so I have to speak clearly. Taking on her character voice was kind of hard.”
Joining Levasseur on stage is the titular beast, played by junior Kempton Campbell. The show also holds childhood meaning to him, as he fondly remembers acting out scenes from the movie with his sister. He most admires the beast’s slow transition from a manly man to a softer human being.
“Oftentimes we have this sort of perception of men that we don’t learn to love,” Campbell said. “It helps you come out and say that -- yeah, we do have hearts and we are able to love.”
Despite taking vocal lessons for two years, Campbell is still trying to nail some of the tricky musical numbers the beast takes on, particularly on the high end. Despite that, he’s looking forward to portraying a popular Disney hero.
“Being able to portray someone that every kid sort of loves, it’s a big opportunity for me and I’m happy to be able to do it.”
The show includes some elaborate costuming for several characters turned into objects due to an evil spell. Eve Corey spends much of her stage time as Madame de la Grande Bouche donning a 30-pound, two foot-wide wardrobe.
“I refer to it as my box,” Corey said. “It has doors that open -- I pull out clothing in a scene. I’m stuck and I can’t use my knees to walk. It’s a challenge.”
Despite that, Corey still admires the personality her character, an opera singer, still keeps.
“She has a very big personality, which Belle needs early on, and it’s fun to play throughout the show because I get to be this big extravagant character.”
Mason Silva spends his time on stage confined in a box dressed as a teacup for his role as Chip.
“He’s only a head,” said Julia Olimpio, who plays Mrs. Potts. “He sits in this little cart on wheels and we make sure he moves and doesn’t drift.”
Kyle Lamontagne and Kenzie Waskiewicz play Lumiere and Babette, the clock and featherduster with sassy French accents that were hard to develop.
“Getting the french accent was very hard to manage and maintain,” Lamontagne said. “I had to practice it a lot.”
Waskiewicz too had trouble with both the accent and the sexiness factor associated with it.
Beauty and the Beast is the second Disney production the theatre company has taken on in recent years. Director Denis Lawrence Jr. said his staff had really pushed to host more Disney magic after the success of The Little Mermaid in 2016. Like that production, Lawrence noted the positive messages are highlights of the show.
“It sends a special message I think is timely to today’s generation -- don’t judge a book by a cover, and that beauty is only skin deep and a person is a person inside and out,” Lawrence said.
Shows are May 3-5 at 7 p.m. at Dartmouth High School, with a 1 p.m. matinee performance at 1 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $48 for a family four pack. Tickets to a character meet and greet at 12 p.m. on May 5 are $20 each. Purchase tickets online at dhstheatreco.com or call (508) 971-2258.