High School Charms Town With ‘Beauty And The Beast’

Lefou, played by Cody Rislund (far right), can’t believe his eyes as he pokes Cogsworth, played by Newman Becker (center), who is a frightened character and afraid of everything. Lumiere, played by Cody Schuler (left), watches with amusement.

Lefou, played by Cody Rislund (far right), can’t believe his eyes as he pokes Cogsworth, played by Newman Becker (center), who is a frightened character and afraid of everything. Lumiere, played by Cody Schuler (left), watches with amusement. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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The Payson High School Musical Theatre Club did themselves proud this past weekend performing Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Kaitlyn Jones mesmerized the audience with her clear, pure voice as the lead character Belle.

John Buskirk played the character Gaston so well, some who know him well, nonetheless didn’t recognize him on stage. He spoke and sang with the deep-chested voice of the character from the movie.

Although Gaston’s character is so full of himself, it would have been easy to overdo, Buskirk played the character completely straight, inciting gales of laughter from the audience.

Cody Schuler, who played Lumiere and Newman Becker, who played Cogsworth, created a charming relationship on stage.

Becker channeled the slightly neurotic, boorish character of the clock Cogsworth, waddling on and off stage looking surprised at the inter-relationships of the humans.

Schuler, picked up Lumiere’s French accent perfectly. He had a suave relationship with the ladies and made perfect fun of his partner, Cogsworth. Schuler’s loose playboy character performance opposite Becker’s stiff upper lip character had the audience in stitches.

Lindsay Popke sashayed and brilliantly struck poses for Babette, the sexy French duster/maid.

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John Buskirk, as Gaston, has an ego larger than life and played the part to the hilt with great success.

Cody Rislund picked up the part of Gaston’s sidekick Lefou in just one night, due to an unplanned actor shuffle. He had the slightly loopy inflection of voice the movie character used. His long gangly body allowed him to exaggerate the awkward movements of his character that contrasted with the debonair and dashing poses struck by Gaston.

Steven Martinez wore the quirky dress and headgear of Belle’s father Maurice. He held his own singing next to Jones and gave the tender father-daughter moments a touch of reality.

Sarah Sprinkle played Mrs. Potts and Hailey Hamblen played her daughter Chip. Adele Becker played the Wardrobe. She got giggles when she pulled out clothes from the inside of her drawers. Reid Wiles played the Beast. Tall, handsome, with dark curly hair, he could have stepped out of the Disney movie.

German foreign exchange student Patrick Schlereth, gave the audience the creeps as the insane asylum owner, D’arque. He too had to learn the part in an evening to replace Rislund.

Behind the cast, the chorus, made up of Cheyenne Jordan, Edward Chiu, Rio Chavez, Ali Cambier, Nathan Crane, Brooke Kubby, Natalia Olivares, Harrison Meidinger, Rishele Shoults and Cameron Rislund donned villager costumes to play the inhabitants of Belle’s little provincial town and forks, knives and spoons as castle staff.

Pima County schools and theatre companies loaned the clothes to Payson, from a wardrobe, a clock, to Gaston’s boots and Belle’s gowns.

Thomas Walling and his tech crew outdid themselves with the set, rebuilding what they created for “Sweeny Todd.”

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