Thomas Davies on stage in the role of 'Beast' for Queen Mary's College Performing Arts Musical Production of Beauty and the Beast

Students Shine in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Production

Students Shine in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Production

Posted: 27th February 2024

AJ Fitzgibbon as Belle and Thomas Davies as Beast performing on stage at QMC's Production of Beauty and the Beast

Students from Queen Mary’s College’s  Performing Arts Centre of Excellence were met with standing ovations when they performed, “Beauty and the Beast,” earlier this month. Based on the Academy Award-winning Disney film, the musical production included dazzling numbers such as the beloved title song and “Be Our Guest.”

Sarah Tottie as Belle and Thomas Davies in the role of Beast at QMC's Performing Arts Production of Beauty and the Beast
Sarah Tottie as Belle and Thomas Davies in the role of Beast

Beauty and the Beast is a classic French fairytale called La Belle at la Bête, written by Gabriel-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueuve. First published in 1740, the French author was inspired by a true story of love between a man suffering a rare disease that caused thick hair to grow all over his body. The version by Barbot de Villenueve and, subsequently Disney, recounts the story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the beast who is really a prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed into his former self.

Performing Arts student MJ Nikolic as Gaston pictured performing on stage
MJ Nikolic as Gaston

The show was enjoyed by packed audiences, with five performances taking place over four days, and one for schools. The standard of performance was exceptional, and it was evident that many of the talented students are poised for successful careers in the Performing Arts. The role of the Beast was portrayed by Thomas Davies, while AJ Fitzgibbon, Lauren Main, Ewa Pogonowicz and Sarah Tottie each showcased their talent in the shared role of Belle.  Megan Nikolic delivered standout performances as Gaston, as did first-year student Alvin Nkansah-Masters, who had the opportunity to play the part as an understudy for Saturday afternoon’s matinee show.

Directed by Anne Higgins, who is in her twentieth year at QMC, students from the Performing Arts and Production Arts courses told the story beautifully. The cast from the first and second years worked together extremely well to make the show such a success.  Anne has put on well over 100 shows during her time at  QMC. The students were also supported by the larger network of QMC specialists who helped them to create the professional look and feel for their performances.

Francesco Serpetti, the Musical Director and Teacher of Music at QMC, led a versatile orchestra comprised of students from A Level Music, BTEC Music, and the QMC Continuum Music Ensemble. The score demanded solid musicians capable of delivering both playful and dramatic passages, blending traditional musical theatre with classical technique. Past student Zack Stephens, now a professional concert violinist and part of QMC’s peripatetic team, joined the orchestra.

Behind the scenes, students and staff worked tirelessly, with Mark Stratton Performing Arts Technician and Teacher of the Production Arts course overseeing technical aspects, including set design and sound.  Stage management students Alex Hammond and Isaac Champion, along with others, handled running the show. Bex Dilley and Beatriz Santos-Goncalves did a fantastic job managing costumes. Nathan Lee and Ollie Funnel contributed to the artistic look and lighting concept, respectively, overseen by Myles Waugh-Bacchus, Central Studio Technician and former production arts student.  Teacher of Dance Craig Horton collaborated with student choreographers on the fantastic dance routines , whilst QMC’s vocal coach Ashley Hughes supported Francesco in coaching the ensemble and individual cast members.

Music students who formed the Orchestra for Beauty and the Beast Musical at Queen Mary's College pictured on stage
Francesco Serpetti and Zack Stephens pictured on stage with the orchestra for Beauty and the Beast

Reflecting on the production’s success, Steve Gallagher, Director of Learning for Performing Arts at QMC said  “It really was a huge team effort, and I am incredibly proud of the effort and dedication shown,” “I would like to express my gratitude to the highly dedicated and passionate team of staff who work tirelessly to make shows like this such a success.”

You can view the full gallery of images below and discover more about QMC’s Performing Arts Centre of Excellence here.

Photography by Josh Halls (QMC Photography, Biology and French A Level student)

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Performing Arts Student MJ Nikolic As Gaston At Queen Mary's College
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Thomas Davies In The Role Of Beast For Queen Mary's College Performing Arts Show
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Performing Arts Student MJ Nikolic As Gaston At Queen Mary's College
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Thomas Davies In The Role Of Beast For Queen Mary's College Performing Arts Show
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