First major production planned for theater at new Peters Township High School | News

Throughout the winter of 2020, theater students at Peters Township High School have been working on preparing their production of the musical “Big Fish” for the public.

“We were basically four days away from playing,” director Ray Cygrymus recalls, when the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic brought almost everything to a halt. “It was very devastating. My heart went out to all the seniors, especially, who never got to make the performance.

This winter, students are preparing for “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical” in the new high school’s state-of-the-art auditorium.

“It’s basically a big, huge show,” Cygrymus said. “We wanted this opportunity to show the new auditorium and what it can do in terms of sound and lighting, as well as the space we have available.”

Students, faculty, and staff left the old high school in January 2021, and a small-scale theater production, “Songs for a New World,” took place a few months later.

“Due to the limitations of COVID and social distancing, we chose this show because it’s mostly solos and duets, and it’s a small cast,” Cygrymus said.

For 2022, the cast of “Beauty and the Beast” includes 81 students, supported by more than 20 of their classmates working behind the scenes.

“The kids are very, very excited and we’ve assembled a fabulous cast,” their manager said. “They are super talented. They work very hard, which for me is even more important than talent.

For the public performances, scheduled for March 17-20, students will don “roughly Broadway-quality” costumes for their portrayals of various anthropomorphic characters, such as Lumiere the candelabrum, Cogsworth the clock, and Chip the teacup and his mother, Mrs. Potts.

When it comes to high school theater, one of its abilities is to allow placement of substantial scenic sets. For example, Belle’s stay in the woods will take place in a suitably spooky forest, and the villainous Gaston’s lair will look like an old-fashioned tavern.

In terms of sound quality, the theater has an array of strategically placed panels to augment what’s happening on stage. And the backing orchestra sits in a separate room, with audio feed to the theater soundboard, allowing extensive volume and balance control.

Alongside the regularly scheduled performances of “Beauty and the Beast”, this will be an opportunity for the show’s understudy to demonstrate their talents. And at 4 p.m., March 19, a “Be Our Guest” meet and greet event, with proceeds going to Peters Township High School’s 185 Thespian Troop.

Cast members include Andrew Rothhaar as the Beast/Prince Adam; Emma Fink, Beautiful; Aidan Cheek, Gaston; Nick Sampson, Light; Wes Parker, Cogsworth; Brendan Bell, Maurice; Emma Hardy, Mrs. Potts; Madison Smith, Babette; Alaina Kulikowski, Chip; Alex Milchovich, Madame Armoire; and Austin Koerbel, LeFou.

A music specialist at McMurray Elementary School, Cygrymus is working on his 10th high school musical as director.

“I love working with kids now that they’re older,” he says. “It’s been so cool to watch them grow up and see the young adults they’ve become.”

Tickets for “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical” can be purchased beginning February 14 at pths.ticketleap.com/beautyandthebeast. For the “Be Our Guest” event on March 19, tickets must be purchased by March 14 at ptthespianbackers.com.

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