Union Middle School's "Beauty and the Beast"
Updated: Mar 17
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photo credit: Margaret MacFadyen-Doty
Union Middle School students are preparing for this weekend’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” in the UMS Auditorium. Mrs. Margaret MacFadyen-Doty, the Director of the production and an English Language Arts teacher at Union School, and a number of her cast members spoke with This is Rutherford about preparing for the show.
TIR: The production that you are directing is “Beauty and the Beast”. How did you choose this musical?
Margaret MacFadyen-Doty: Usually we let the students that were in the production the year before pick the musical, but this year we selected because of the circumstances last year. We felt that because the last two years have been hectic with the pandemic, we would allow the entire cast to be part of the selection of the musical. They were ecstatic to find out that “Beauty and the Beast” won their votes for the school musical this year.
TIR: What are your cast members enjoying the most about working on this production?
MMD: The cast members seem to really enjoy being together and having fun. They are a great group of people with so many creative ideas and insights into the show. They are enjoying creating their characters and exploring how to bring them across to the audience. All of the actors in this production bring their own sense of creativity to the show.
TIR: In regards to the stage crew, how have they worked together to design the scenery and prepare the stage?
MMD: We have two amazing students from the high school that have volunteered their time to help design all of the set pieces with help from 7th and 8th-grade volunteers. We also have students running the soundboard, working with the lights, taking charge of props and moving set pieces, as well as helping with costumes. All of these students demonstrate their artistic capabilities in the designs that they have created. We are excited for the audience to see their work.
TIR: What has been most rewarding about directing this production?
MMD: The entire process has been a rewarding one, especially with the pandemic. Our 2020 production was put to a halt with only two weeks left until opening night and our 2021 production was performed without an audience. We feel very lucky to have our students perform in front of their friends and family this year. The smiles on their faces are extremely rewarding. Even with all of the ups and downs that any production goes through, it is really amazing to work with such a dedicated and talented group of students that have been waiting patiently to get back to creating a production.
Both seventh and eighth-grade cast members explained more about their characters and how much they have enjoyed rehearsing for the show.
TIR: Which role do you play in “Beauty and the Beast” and what do you enjoy about this role?
Madison Daly (7th grader): I play a Narrator and a villager, I like it because I get to play different roles and get to sing and dance.
Lucia Marchesani (7th grader): In Beauty and the Beast I am Silly Girl #2. What I enjoy most about this role is how much fun it is to be fawning over Gaston and it has been very fun to get to know the cast.
Dylan Gagliardo (7th grader): In the production of "Beauty and the Beast Jr", I play the role of a Silly Girl, my character's job is to fall for Gaston and try to get him to notice me, all though I would say that the best part of this role is all the comedy.
Alya Bizel (7th grader): I am one of the Silly Girls in "Beauty and the Beast". I really enjoyed how fun and comical this role is. Our job is to be all over Gaston and make the audience laugh.
Isabella Ramos (7th grader): I play Chip. What I enjoy most about this role is that I get to act like a kid and just be myself.
Grace Micco (7th grader): I’m one of the silly girls I love how as a silly girl I’m in a group instead of just one person. It definitely helps with stage fright when your friends are right next to you.
Samantha Jakubas (7th grader): I play the role of Madame de la Grande Bouche, an opera singer turned into a wardrobe!
Grace Methe (7th grader): In "Beauty and the Beast" I play LeFou. I enjoy being able to put my own personality into this role and making it unique!
Gianna Valente (7th grader): I play Mrs. Potts and what I enjoyed the most was that I got to act older and be a mother-like figure. I also got to dance, act and sing which I love to do. I loved to sing my solo and I also loved being in the songs and doing all the choreography that was made for me.
Sydney Harris (8th grader): I play the enchantress, ensemble, and villager. The thing that I enjoy the most about my role is the body language that I use to have a conversation and express the feelings that I'm trying to show the audience.
Abbygail Byron (8th grader): I play one of the narrators in Beauty and the Beast. What I enjoy about this role is being able to tell the story while being in it.
Braedon McQuade (8th grader): I play Gaston.
RJ Cusick (8th grader): In "Beauty and the Beast", I play the Beast. and what I really enjoy about this role is I get a lot of stage time.
TIR: What are you most excited for audiences to see during “Beauty and the Beast”?
Madison: Even though I am not in it, I'm most excited for the audience to see the characters become human again.
Lucia: I am excited for the audience to see the "Gaston" scene because we worked very hard on the choreography for that scene.
Dylan: I am most excited for the audience to see the costumes and vocals we have put together. The "Gaston" song is something we have been working on for weeks now, and I think it came out great, maybe the best.
Alya: I am really excited for the audience to see all the costumes and choreography and vocals come together to make an entertaining "Beauty and the Beast JR". I am especially excited for the "Gaston" scene. We worked really hard and long. There was a lot of thought that went into it.
Isabella: I am most excited for audiences to see the opening number which is called "Belle".
Grace: I am so excited for the audience to see the whole play put together and for them to see how fun and silly the silly girls are.
Samantha: I am most excited for people to see how our cast has come together to perform this show.
Grace Methe: I am most excited for the audience to see the cast this year because it is full of many talented people!
Gianna: I am most excited for the audience to see us all perform the show. I would love for them to see Be Our Guest. We worked very hard on it and put a lot of effort into it.
Sydney: I am most excited for the audience to see our choreography.
Abbygail: I am most excited for the audience to see our choreographed songs. Everyone worked hard on learning them and it would be so rewarding for the audience to see what we've been working on.
Braedon: I can't wait for them to see the singing parts such as Gaston and Be Our Guest.
RJ: The thing I'm most excited for the audience to see is when we do the second half after intermission.
TIR: What have you enjoyed most about rehearsing and preparing for the show?
Madison: The part I have enjoyed most was trying on costumes.
Lucia: The part I have enjoyed most about rehearsing for the play is how supportive everyone in the cast is and that if you make a mistake you do not have to worry about anyone judging you.
Dylan: What I like most about rehearsing is that I have made a lot of new friendships over the past few months, and because of that, we are all able to work well together. All in all, I am very excited to show everyone this amazing production we have put together. Thank you, and good luck to the cast.
Alya: One of the things I enjoyed most was being with my friends, learning new choreography, and making a lot of awesome memories in the process. I can't wait for everyone to see the show!
Isabella: What I enjoyed most about being at rehearsals and preparing for the show is spending time with my friends and preparing for a great show!
Grace: I have definitely enjoyed being with my friends while rehearsing and just seeing how everything comes along.
Samantha: The thing that I have most enjoyed about rehearsing is coming together with my schoolmates and making new friendships. When I first joined the show, I only knew a few people and was nervous to be alone. However, I've grown so close and become so appreciative of the cast.
Grace Methe: I have enjoyed getting closer with my classmates who I didn't know that well before the play! I also enjoyed all of the singing and dancing I got to do each day!
Gianna: I have enjoyed being with my friends and making memories that last a lifetime while I participate in this play. This play was truly amazing and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
Sydney: The thing that I enjoyed during rehearsals was getting to act with my crewmates.
Abbygail: What I've enjoyed most about rehearsing and preparing for the show is getting to know new people who share the same interest as me and just having a lot of fun running lines and singing together.
Braedon: I loved the experience of being in the show in general but I would have to say getting to meet new people. The fact that I got to rehearse with them and interact with them. I can't wait for the high school plays!
RJ: The thing I have enjoyed most about rehearsing is the people there. Everyone is so kind and giving and over the months we've pretty much all become friends