Dowagiac students to present ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Published 9:42 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

DOWAGIAC — Plays and musicals are a special experience for both performers and an audience, but they are especially enjoyable when they are renditions of childhood favorites.

Friday, March 22 through Sunday, March 24, Dowagiac Union students will be presenting their rendition of the Disney classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” with ornate costumes, lavish sets and unforgettable music.

“This musical in particular has such moving music,” said director Alicia Koch. “It really is a deep musical.”

“Beauty and the Beast” is a story about a young bookworm named Belle who finds herself captive in the castle of a prince turned Beast after she takes the place of her imprisoned father. The longer she stays, the more she discovers the enchantment and magic of the castle and its residents, as well as the kindness of her monstrous captor. The Disney musical is full of dancing dishes, village rioting and the discovery of love in unexpected places.

“I think this musical is good for a teenage cast because it’s about finding love despite who you are or how you look. I think that’s a good message for young people,” Koch said.

Koch is the CEO and founder of Euphoric Stage, a performing arts organization based in Niles. When Dowagiac Union Schools needed a director for their spring musical, Koch happily stepped forward with her talents for vocal coaching and directing. Koch has worked on many productions in her career, but the Dowagiac production of “Beauty and the Beast” is her first youth musical.

“It is different because I can’t drive young people the way I would with a professional cast,” Koch said. “They have to go home at a reasonable time because they have homework and school the next day.”

The cast, however, could not be more appropriate, according to Koch. She said the timing was ideal for a presentation of “Beauty and the Beast” because of the talent and personalities of the students. The role of Belle is played by Emily Potter, the Beast by Jonathan Stockwell, Gaston by Jared Peters, LeFou by Gwen Gulliver, Lumiere by Clayton Miller and Josh Dzakowic, Cogswoth by Jose Medina, and Mrs. Potts by Isabella Ruiz. According to Koch, many of the leads were accompanied by understudies because of the immense talent of other students.

“This musical was ideal for the cast we have,” Koch said. “The students have so much talent. I think it’s going to be a good show everyone.”

Koch is a believer that the arts are beneficial for the health and development of young people. She sees musicals like Beauty and the Beast as more than just community entertainment and a fun extra-curricular for students. To Koch, participating in musicals and other performing arts is good for brain and character development, building confidence and creating well-rounded members of society.

“It’s so important for young people to be in the performing arts. It makes them into better people and makes communities better as a result,” Koch said.

Showtimes for Dowagiac Union Schools’ production of Beauty and the Beast are at 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. General admission tickets can be purchased at the door for $7, $5 for seniors.