Beast dances with Belle

Beast (Ian Burnett) dances with Belle (Jehila Cutright) in Desert Edge High School’s spring musical “Beauty and the Beast.” (Photo courtesy Desert Edge High School)

Desert Edge High School’s assistant musical director Amy Lowe said her students’ rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” isn’t the average pupil production. 

The spring musical one has a live orchestra, striking costumes and top-notch production. It’s set for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 11, and Friday, April 12, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Desert Edge Performing Arts Center, 15778 W. Yuma Road, Goodyear. 

“We’re going to have a live pit orchestra,” she said. “This is the fourth year we’ve done it. We get students, parents, teachers and community members to participate. It’s awesome. They are able to learn what it’s like to work with musicians and a director, rather than listening to a recording.

“I know how hard it is to get people together. It’s worth it. A show without a live orchestra is like going to a baseball game with a pitching machine.”

In this production, Ian Burnett plays Beast; Jehila Cutright is Belle; Lumiere is Dylan Auer, and Mrs. Potts is Dreama O’Neal. The cast also includes Grace Hinshaw as Cogsworth and Ryan Kelley is Gaston.

“He’s hilarious,” Lowe said about Kelley. “His first time acting was in the fall play and now he’s killing it as Gaston.”

Lowe is serving as assistant director and vocal director, with Denise Royal as director. Pit director of Paul Traugott, with technical sound and lights by Tony DiMito. Lowe, Royal and Traugott are teachers, with DiMito, a Berklee College of Music graduate who runs the A/V Club.

“The musical is very close to the Disney version,” she said. “It’s so entertaining. Everybody has seen ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and the music is so recognizable.”

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for children 5 to 12. That helps cover the rights to use the script, music, vocal music and conductor’s score. 

“In order for us to continue doing stuff like this, we have to charge,” Lowe said. “We also need to pay to build the set and buy the supplies and costumes. It’s a rather pricey thing to do.”

This is the Massachusetts-born Lowe’s fifth year with the school. Lowe, who previously taught in the Chicago area, enjoys putting on performances with the students. 

“I love the arts, the kids and getting kids into the arts,” she said. “This is rewarding.”