HomeBensalem TimesBensalem Drama Club presenting ‘Beauty and the Beast’ this weekend

Bensalem Drama Club presenting ‘Beauty and the Beast’ this weekend

Director Raegan Ruiz shares details on the production, what it means to the senior class and more

A classic tale: The Bensalem High School Drama Club is performing Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ this weekend. Submitted Photo

A tale as old as time is hitting the stage at Bensalem High School this weekend, when the Drama Club presents the iconic Disney musical Beauty and the Beast.

Starring junior Ethan Hinshaw as Beast and seniors Sage Zebrowski (Thursday night, Saturday matinee) and Shannon Jackson (Friday and Saturday night) as Belle, the show follows the traditional plotline of the 1991 animated film and 1994 Broadway production. After a not-so-nice prince is transformed by a witch into a horrifying Beast, he must learn to love before the final petal falls from an enchanted rose if he hopes to return to his human form.

Ahead of showtime, The Times caught up with Drama Club director Raegan Ruiz, who shared the reasoning behind her selection for 2023.

“I felt that, post-COVID, I needed to do what I could to entice people to come out and support the arts again,” said Ruiz. “Last year, we did Grease, which is obviously a very well-known musical because of the movie, and the same thing with this year. I definitely wanted to make sure I did something that was known to the community at-large so that we could give the kids potentially a good audience, a big audience.”

According to Ruiz, the selection of Beauty and the Beast is also a bit of a “happy accident.”

There is a strong senior presence in the BHS Drama Club, with many of them first getting involved as eighth-graders. Since there’s no middle school club, younger students are invited to get some experience at the high school level prior to becoming freshmen. That year, the group put on Cinderella, another classic Disney offering.

Plus, Disney is celebrating its 100th anniversary throughout 2023, making it the perfect time to perform the company’s first-ever Broadway musical adaptation.

“They’re kind of coming full-circle,” Ruiz said of her seniors. “They came in with a quintessential fairytale, Cinderella, and they’re ending their time here at BHS with another quintessential fairytale, so I think it’s meaningful to them in that way. It all kind of aligned in a cool way.”

Ruiz tells her students all the time that, out of all the productions she’s directed since coming on board in 2018, Cinderella remains her favorite.

“One of them said to me, ‘Just wait. Maybe this one will be your favorite one now.’ ”

When asked if BHS is putting any unique twists on the story, Ruiz assured audiences that they’re going to see the Beauty and the Beast that they know and love.

“I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to shows that I feel are iconic,” said Ruiz, who was wowed by the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast when she was a high schooler. “It’s not true of every show, but with this one, audiences want to see the traditional plot.”

Ruiz shared a few final words on why residents should come out to see Beauty and the Beast this weekend: “I think that in times like these, there can be a lot of uncertainty, especially in the last two or three years that we experienced as a world. To come together as a community and enjoy something that’s kind of an equalizer, a familiar story, that in itself is meaningful. And it’s a totally family-friendly show. I think everyone will leave definitely being touched by the performances that the students will give.”

If you go: Beauty and the Beast is being presented at the Bensalem High School Auditorium, 4319 Hulmeville Road, on Thursday, Feb. 23, Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25. There are evening shows at 7 p.m. each day, and a Saturday matinee at 1 p.m. Evening show tickets are $10; the Saturday matinee is $5. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or ahead of time online at bensalemsd-bhs.edlioschool.com/apps/pages/BHSMusicalTicket.Information.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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