'BE OUR GUEST': Norman North to perform 'Beauty and the Beast'

Nov. 7—The Norman North High School drama department has invited the public to be its guest as it opens the doors to the Nancy O'Brian Center for the school's 2023 fall musical, "Disney's Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical."

With one lump, or two, guests can catch any of three showings from Thursday to Saturday at 7 p.m., 1809 Stubbeman Ave.

Tickets cost $10.

Jacob Gonzales, choir teacher and director said the decision to put on the adaptation of Disney's 1991 movie comes amid a string of lesser-known productions.

"We've done edgy musicals, contemporary musicals and recently we did 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder,'" Gonzales said. "This year, I decided to go the Disney route to draw more attention to the audience and better get their involvement."

This year's cast features 38 Norman North students, including two actors who will play the part of Belle, seniors Meg Loy, who will take the stage on Thursday and Friday, and Ellie Bieler, who will perform on Saturday.

"I have loved 'Beauty and the Beast' since I was a kid. I saw the national tour. It's really the first professional show I ever saw on stage that I remember, and I still have my little Broadway bill," Loy said.

She said she felt attracted to the role because of Belle's personality, and what the character means to fans of the movie.

"It means a lot to play a character that means so much to little girls everywhere who represents courage, intelligence, and kindness," she said.

Bieler said it is the first time she has taken on a lead role in a production this big.

"I was very excited to learn I would get to play this," Bieler said. "It's the first Disney show that we've done in many years, so I thought it was a good choice."

She said the cast overcame different challenges, including having to replace one of its major cast members halfway through production.

"Our director got all the seniors together and asked us who we thought would be good for the role, and it was kind of a team effort to put the show back together," she said.

Mason Smith, a senior who will play the part of the Beast, said this is his second production after having done "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" last year.

He said he never could have imagined putting on the Beast costume.

"It's a classical character that you're about to don the physical attributes of, and a character that a lot of people around the world know and love," he said.

Smith said the costume took some getting used to.

"It's comfortable, right up until you finish that first scene and you start to sweat, then that hair gets a little stickier," he said.

Because of the nature of the Beast costume, he said it is pushing his ability to perform, both physically and vocally.

Loy said high school theater is necessary to the high school experience.

"Arts education is really one of the most important facets of Norman North," she said. "This show has been such a beautiful collaboration between the orchestra, the choir kids and the acting kids. It's such a wonderful community that we build making these musicals."

Throughout the week, the ensemble will also perform in the middle of the school day to middle and elementary school students who will be bused to the Nancy O'Brian Center.

"There's a lot of kids performing that saw the high school musical when they were in middle school and said, 'I want to be a part of that when I'm in high school,'" Gonzales said.