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Cooperative Effort Strengthens Play

Holy Child produces “Beauty and the Beast.”

More than 90 students participated in the cast and crew for “Beauty and the Beast,” presented March 1 and 2 by The Connelly School of the Holy Child.

The result was “incredible and amazing,” said director Elsbeth Reaves Fager.

Besides acting in the play, students created costumes, built and painted sets, choreographed dances, played in the orchestra and sang in the chorus. German Lopez, a Holy Child employee, created a set which could be easily moved for changes in scenery. “German was so helpful and spent hours after school building the set. His artistic talent and vision truly made the show,” Fager said.

Fager brought in students from nearby schools to play the male roles, since Holy Child is an all-girl’s school. Actors came from The Heights, Gonzaga, Georgetown Prep, Langley, and Sherwood. The Beast was played by Isaac Schiller, a senior at Georgetown Prep. John Anderson, who attends Langley High in McLean, Va., played a humorous, pompous Gaston . Other male actors were Andre Myers, Charlie Gilak, Nick Townsend and Joseph Hunt.

“The students from the community brought a lot of experience and confidence to our stage and we are grateful for their talent and willingness to join our cast,” Fager said.

Maria Berkowitz starred as Belle. She has been in many local productions in addition to performing with the Holy Child chorus and in other school plays. Her list of acting achievements includes “What I Did Last Summer” at the Alden Theater, “Bye Bye Birdie” at the Langley Theatre and “Oliver” at the Little Theatre of Alexandria. She said, “Beauty and the Beast was such a complicated show. It was a great accomplishment for Holy Child to take on such a challenge — and I think it turned out to be a wonderful show. Our audience was mesmerized for 2 and a half hours.”

“One of the turning points in our rehearsals was when we had Carter Lynch, a New York actor who was on tour with ‘Beauty and the Beast’ last summer come to critique our rehearsals,” said Fager. “He really brought a spark to our cast. We were dragging a bit, but he brought so much positive energy to us.”

“He inspired everyone in the cast to work harder,” said Tahana Augustin who played Madame de la Grande Bouche. “He helped us enjoy it more, even though we were working very hard — practicing the days before the performance until 9 p.m. each night. Since Mr. Lynch had performed in ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ he was able to really explain the characters to us. We learned that you have to turn yourself into your character and behave and think like she would.”

India Upton, who played Mrs. Potts said, “Having Mr. Lynch here was so helpful, because he gave us the background of the story and the history. He made it all click for us — and gave us the belief that we could do it.”