A Tale as Old as Time


Lucy Bridges, Guest Writer

True love and magic poured out of Geneva High School’s Auditorium as Geneva’s thespians put their traditional touch on the musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The fairy tale was originally written by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve in 1740, revolutionized by Walt Disney Pictures as an original film in 1991, and turned into a production as a Broadway musical from 1994 until 1999. The student production opened on Thursday night as Geneva High School’s exceptionally talented theater students reminded us of the romance and magic of this traditional fairy tale.

Audience members felt as if they had landed in a picturesque French village when the villagers came out from the dark of the theatre to perform the familiar opening number, “Bonjour.” The emotion of a small French village was brought to life as the villagers scrambled around the stage and sang in a conversational manner. However, the lead, sophomore Lilly Nowak, was the one who caught my eye as she stole the show and showed the audience what Disney magic is all about. Nowak was perfectly chosen to play the lead, Belle, seeing that she continuously wowed the audience with her melodious singing voice and natural acting talent. The chemistry that Nowak showed, not only with the Beast, but with every cast member, was astounding.

The traditional story was perfectly portrayed through a beautiful and intricate set with smooth transitions and authentic props. Another aspect of the play that could be described as beautiful and authentic is the character Gaston, played by senior Noah Hanlon. Hanlon was a true crowd pleaser and portrayed the dapper villain with the perfect mixture of humor and vain flirtatiousness, who regularly kept the audience at the edge of their seats. Hanlon not only gave everything to his performance but also poured his heart and soul into the his own monologue, which he wrote and performed himself.

Hanlon was not the only cast member who has achieved successes in the theatre world. Junior, Nathan Castagna, who played the Beast, had a remarkable performance that sent chills down my spine each time he sang. Castagna was nominated this year, along with last year, to receive the award of Illinois’ Best High School Actor at the Illinois High School Music Theatre Awards. While some cast members are rejoicing in their sweet success from this musical and begin to prepare for the next high school production, senior Megan Styrna, who phenomenally played the iconic role of Mrs. Potts, is ending an era at Geneva High School. Styrna has performed in every school production since her freshman year and has left the audience speechless numerous times with her glorious voice. Although sad at the ending of her high school career, Styrna will continue to pursue music and the performing arts, as she hopes to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.

The amazingly talented cast of Beauty and the Beast could not have done a more magnificent job at bringing the fairy tale to life. Energy and excitement encircled the auditorium as the cast slipped into song after song of Disney magic. The story of ordinary people turned into extraordinary objects was executed in a traditional yet riveting manner, that I could watch over and over again. As Belle fell in love with a dying Beast, the transformation from beast to man, which was clean, precise and magical, left even me wondering about the magic of the theatre. As the end drew nearer, the elated cast tied up loose ends and, finally, Belle and the Beast sealed their performance… with a kiss! I left the auditorium feeling a warm sensation of happiness, looking forward to attending the next Geneva High School production.