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 Tyler LeDuc, center, plays Gaston in Dakota High School’s adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” The musical runs from Feb. 7 to Feb. 16.

Tyler LeDuc, center, plays Gaston in Dakota High School’s adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” The musical runs from Feb. 7 to Feb. 16.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Dakota High School Drama presents “Beauty and the Beast”

Show begins on Feb. 7

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 29, 2019

 Brooke Pacifico, a sophomore at Dakota High School, plays Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.” Pacifico is seen here rehearsing on Jan. 22.

Brooke Pacifico, a sophomore at Dakota High School, plays Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.” Pacifico is seen here rehearsing on Jan. 22.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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When speaking with cast members at Dakota High School in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” it’s clear they’re thrilled and ready for what lies ahead.

 In a 10-day span, students will perform in eight shows. 

The musical is scheduled for Feb. 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. On Feb. 9 and 16, there will be two shows a day, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.   

“As the largest populated high school in the state, we need to have an inclusive show that has large casts,” Executive Director Kelly Schmidt said. “When deciding what shows to perform, we always consider shows with heavy ensemble roles, multiple lead roles, what our community has requested, what our students want to do, and the types of shows we have done in the past.”

Performances will be held at the Dakota High School auditorium, 21051 21 Mile Road in Macomb Township.

“‘Beauty and the Beast’ is an elaborate story with a known storyline,” Schmidt said. “It has sparkle, magic, surprise, humor and big show-stopping songs. Behind all the glitz is an important message about not judging a book by its cover.”

Zachary Burnham, a junior at Dakota, plays the Beast, one of the main roles of the musical. 

“To prepare for the role, I’ve done a lot of watching other people and interpreting how they’ve taken into character,” he said. “I’ve watched the Broadway musical countless times to see how the original actor did it. I take from that and add my style to it.” 

What Burnham is looking forward to most about performing the musical in front of a live audience is hearing its reaction after the show.

“After they’ve seen the set and the full group number will be great,” he said. “For me as a character, when I sing ‘If I Can’t Love Her’ from the top platform, it’s going to be really cool.” 

Some of the top songs the audience can expect to hear are “Gaston” and the “Mob Song.” 

Playing the part of Belle is Brooke Pacifico, a sophomore at Dakota. 

“Ever since I found out I was playing Belle, I went to my vocalist teacher and we went over the score and analyzed the music,” Pacifico said. “We did some character analysis to get ready for this.” 

Pacifico enjoys acting, singing and dancing, something she has done since the seventh grade. 

“Belle is very kind and understanding, but very headstrong,” she said. “She knows what she wants, and won’t back down from it. I’ve really enjoyed playing her.” 

Tyler LeDuc, a junior, said that playing Gaston is the biggest role of his young career.

“I felt like even though Gaston is a mean dude, I fell right into the role and have really enjoyed it,” he said. “I promise I’m not a bad person in real life.” 

A couple weeks before the production, LeDuc said the cast has been practicing four hours a day during the week and even more on weekends.

“Being in character as Gaston is the best,” he said. “Every time I’m interacting with someone on stage, I can exude a character that you can’t do in real life.” 

It might go without saying, but the song LeDuc is most looking forward to performing is “Gaston.”

“It’s about me and I get to have so much fun acting with my friends,” he said. “It’s a giant song that is going to be super fun and energetic with a lot of choreography.” 

The cast, over 100 strong, consists of high school, middle school and elementary students.

Schmidt said “Beauty and the Beast” is the highest selling show in drama department history.

Tickets for “Beauty and the Beast” range from $5 to $15 and can be purchased in advance at dakotamusical.seatyourself.biz or at the box office, which opens one hour before show time.  

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