Footlights' Beauty and the Beast Casts Its Spell


Erie, PA (August 5, 2016) The song book of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” at Strong Vincent High School, where students were performing The Footlights Theater Program production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”. (Photo Credit: Lauren Benzo)

The timeless tale of appreciating kindness and inner beauty came to life during the first week of August at Strong Vincent High School. To celebrate 42 years of “all-school” musicals, The Footlights Theater Program presented their production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”

While viewing this production, it was not hard to realize that over 100 children have been practicing their lines, spots, and dance routines for two months. That was not time wasted and all of their hard work paid off during the three-day production.

With direction from KC McCloskey, the musical had a “once upon a time” opening, in which the prince, played by Nick Carver, refused shelter to an ugly crone. The crone casted a spell on the prince, turning him into a beast and his staff into half-animate objects. In order to break the spell, the beast must love someone who loves him back, before the last petal of the rose left by the enchantress falls.

Meanwhile Belle, played by first time “footie” Sam Rose, is the loveliest woman in a little French Village, where she loses herself in literature as the townsfolk smirk. She and her father, played by Will Hollenbeck, are what people would call the “outsiders” of the small town.

The most desired bachelor is Gaston, played by Aaron Holman, is a handsome man with bad qualities. He wants Belle because he doesn’t have her. At the same time, he swoons silly girls during his ode to himself in the song “Me.”

As time passes by, Belle’s father gets lost in the woods where the Beast imprisons him. When Belle finds him, she offers herself as a trade, which gives the Beast and his assembly of servants a rare glimmer of hope that they may become humans again.

Two big productions really grasp the attention of the audience. “Gaston” is an enthusiastic dance number with clinking beer mugs and revealing lyrics: “No one says “no” to Gaston” is sung cheerfully, concealing a savage undertone. During “Be Our Guest,” the audience was presented with singing and dancing from over 70 children dressed as dancing plates, candlesticks, and silverware in the magic castle.

Along with Belle and the Beast, the candelabra Lumiere played by Shane Work, Cogswork played by Connor Maclay, Chip played by Zach Yeager, and Mrs. Potts played by Brianna Mitchell were hyperactive crowd pleasers. Brianna actually showed the audience her vocal range during her performance of “Beauty and the Beast” which brought some adults to tears.

By the end of the evening, there were cheers and standing ovations from the audience. There was also an acknowledgement of the message within the production of “Beauty and the Beast.” The message is that love can be found anywhere and it does not matter who you are or where you come from.

The production has now come to the end, yet the Footlights Theatre Program will be back in June of 2017. For 42 years, this program’s objective is not only to teach the arts, but also to teach students the value of live entertainment and how to come together for a common goal. They also want to teach the students about the value of hard work, discipline, and the joy of giving back to the city of Erie.

While speaking to a six-year Footie alumi named Ariel Sherr, she stated “I love coming here every summer. I do other theater programs during the school year, but I really love doing shows with Footlights. It gives every student something productive to do during the summer break and yes, I will be back next year.”

The Footlights Theatre program gives the students an opportunity to have fun during the summer and no child will be turned away from a role. It is not only educational, but all children are welcome to become cast member, meet new people, and to make history in the Erie Footlights tradition.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in The Footlights Theatre Program for the summer of 2017, please feel free to visit