Telling a tale as old as time

Bethel students perform the classic Beauty and the Beast, sharing a story of humility and redemptive love with their own unique spin.

By Heather Schnese S’12, content specialist

January 31, 2024 | 4 p.m.

Beauty and the Beast dress rehearsal

Beauty and the Beast dress rehearsal

“Audiences will love this musical because of the story it tells. It is a story of love, but even more so, that of redemption,” says Samuel Schulte ’24, who plays the Beast. “No matter how far and hard we fall, we can come back if we practice humility and empathy with those around us.”

It’s a tale as old as time, but also new. Beauty and the Beast is the culmination of two January classes: “Projects in Performance” and “Producing and Performing a Musical.” Bethel students learned what it takes to bring a musical from the page to the stage—including singing, choreography, acting, costuming, set building, prop design, and more, explains Director Glenn Morehouse Olson. They also worked to put their own unique spin on the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end, and he will be transformed into his former self. If he can’t, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.
The Beast must learn to love and be loved.

The Beast, played by Sam Schulte '24, must learn to love and be loved in order to break the curse he's under.

“This show is full of exceptional lighting designs, vibrant costumes, and exciting dances! The audiences are sure to feel a sense of joy from all the familiar songs they have grown to love.”

— Aviya Wadsager ’26
“This is a musical stage adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” says Olson. “We talked a lot about the theme of the transformational power of love, which is something Bethel students are extremely connected to.”

Aviya Wadsager ’26, a psychology and social work double major with a music performance emphasis, is one of two students who play Belle. “She is one of the most resilient princesses and is the opposite of a damsel in distress. Finding the inner strength that Belle carries with her has also made me grow as a person,” Wadsager explains. “The most challenging part of playing Belle—besides memorizing lines!—has been acting through her wide range of emotions. Belle goes through a lot of loss, but also experiences so much joy. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the emotions.”
Belle, Beauty and the Beast's female protagonist

Belle, Beauty and the Beast's female protagonist played by both Aviya Wadsager ’26 and Aniya Robertson, finds adventure outside of her provincial town.

It could also have been easy to become overwhelmed by the production’s tight turnaround. “This production came together in four weeks, which is a Herculean task. Actors came in with scripts memorized and having also had several music rehearsals to get a handle on the music. We added our orchestra in for only three rehearsals. Pulling that together takes real commitment,” says Olson. “Our students have given 110% to this, and I couldn’t be more proud of the community they have created while sharing the joy of performing, building, and working together.

“Many of us knew each other before being cast so at the end of the day, this is a group of friends all coming together to tell an extremely healing story.”

— Samuel Schulte ’24
Schulte, a political science and music double major, has wanted to help tell this story since he first saw it performed many years ago. He says his favorite part of the experience at Bethel so far has simply been being cast. For Wadsager, this is the third Bethel production she’s been part of. “It feels like you are acting alongside family. Being able to work together to put on a musical in a short month definitely builds a sense of camaraderie that is so unique,” she says. “I am so thankful to be able to get to know these amazing people to tell a story of transformation and love!”

See the show

Beauty and the Beast will take place February 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. and February 4 at 2:30 p.m. in Benson Great Hall. The show is presented in two acts with an intermission and runs 2-1/2 hours.

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