Magical ‘Beauty and the Beast’ charms David Douglas audiences

Discover how singing, dancing, and orchestral music combine to make an enchanting theatrical performance in the musical now playing at the Horner Auditorium ...

David Douglas High School Music Instructor Jennifer Muller, conductor of Beauty and the Beast, which opened on November 13th, leads the orchestra during the musical’s overture.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The audience was dazzled and delighted after the final curtain of the David Douglas High School (DDHS) Performing Arts Department’s opening night performance of Beauty and the Beast on November 13.

The DDHS Thespian Troupe 536 was joined by a cast of 45, a live orchestra of 30, and a crew of 25, bring to the Horner Auditorium stage a live-action version of 1991 animated Disney film.

“The stage version of Beauty and the Beast is a bit different from the movie,” remarked the show’s director, and DDHS Theater Instructor, Michael Givler.

Town folks gather around Belle (played by Eliza Fitch), and wonder aloud about her fascination with books.

Belle is annoyed when town macho man Gaston (played with delightful arrogance by Trevor Brummett) mocks her, after he seizes her new book – as does his sidekick Lefou (played by Mitchell Martin).

After stumbling upon, and into, the Beast’s castle in the woods, Belle’s father [second to the right end] Maurice (played by Strider VanMeter) meets the enchanted staff French candelabra maître d’ Lumiere (Camryn Gustafson), the tightly wound butler Cogsworth (Hannah Kellebrew), the head cook Mrs. Potts (Felisa Armitage), her son Chipp (Sydney Yelton), and French maid feather duster Babette (Bella Green).

“The stage musical play adaptation challenges audiences with the concept of introspection,” Givler told East Portland News. “And, this examination and observation of the character’s mental and emotional processes becomes the major theme of the story.”

The Beast, for example, “wears” his troubled psyche externally, Givler said. “He is struggling to coming to terms with being rude and arrogant in his youth – and being cursed by a witch because if it. He then goes from being a victim, to taking responsibility.”

And Belle, the town’s bookish “beauty”, learns not to judge others based on first impressions.

In an attempt to rescue her father from the enchanted castle, Belle meets Beast (played by Dima Poperechnaya).

In her room in the castle Mrs. Potts introduces Belle to the living wardrobe cabinet, Madam De La Grand Bouche (played by Nicole Westenskow).

In town, everyone tries to cheer up Gaston by literally singing his praises.

The story
Far from being a stuffy philosophical lecture, this production of Beauty and the Beast swirls with colorful dance numbers and lively action scenes. It’s loaded with comedy, mostly stemming from the brutish antics of the story’s antagonist, Gaston, who throughout the play tries to win the hand of Belle, with the aid of his bumbling sidekick Lefou.

Because of the enchantress’ spell, the Beast will die if he does not learn to truly love; and, after ten years, time is running out for him. Finding a woman to woo isn’t as difficult as doing it – he broods in his castle, becoming more hideous, irate, and nasty all the while.

It’s a colorful “down the rabbit hole” experience, as Belle tries to rescue her exocentric father, and ends up a prisoner in the Beast’s castle. She finds the castle astonishingly populated by the Beast’s staff, who are also under the witches’ spell, and have been turned into an animated teapot cook, a stuffy over-wound clock butler, a charming French candelabra maître d’, a living wardrobe cabinet, and lively table setting pieces.

All of the castle’s enchanted staff offers Belle dinner, offering her to “Be Our Guest”.

In town, Gaston riles up the locals, urging them to grab pitchforks and join him as he attacks the castle of the Beast.

In town, Gaston plots and schemes to free and to romance Belle, by winning a battle with the Beast in his castle, and imprisoning her father in an insane asylum.

  • Can the brutish Gaston successfully blackmail Belle into marrying him?
  • Will the castle’s staff have their wish of being turned back into people?
  • Might the Beast learn to truly love – and be loved – before the last petal of a rose falls?
  • Who will survive the lynch mob when they storm the Beast’s castle?


Come see Beauty and the Beast at David Douglas High School!

Belle and the Beast’s relationship shifts as they waltz, indicating there is “Something There” between them.

From the sweet, sweeping sounds of the strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion in the orchestra, to the singing talents of the entire cast, this show is a musical delight.

Standouts are the clear, charming voice of Eliza Fitch as she sings, portraying Belle; the rich, confident, baritone singing voice of the Beast; Dima Poperechnaya; and the singing voice coming from the teapot, “Mrs. Potts”, actor Felisa Armitage.

From the cabaret-style show put on by the Castle’s staff, to dance numbers in the town square, you’ll be happy you brought your family to see this vibrant, melodious, well-acted musical play.

Audiences are thrilled by the finale, as the cast sings “Human Again”.

Sure to sell out quickly
When word gets around about DDHS’s production of Beauty and the Beast, tickets will go fast.

  • Beauty and the Beast continues at 7:30 p.m. on November 14, 19, and 21.

There are also two Sunday Family Matinee performances at 2:30 p.m. on November 15, and again on November 22.

Tickets: $10 Adults | $8 Students and Seniors. The Box Office is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 3:00 until 5:30 p.m.; reserving seats is recommended. The telephone number is (503) 261-8270.

It’s at the Howard F. Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th (between Stark and Division Streets).

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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