Tale as old as time coming to high school stage

Published 9:00 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

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‘Beauty and the Beast’ features over 60 students

After a couple months of preparation, the stage is set for “Beauty and the Beast,” Albert Lea High School’s fall musical.

Diane Heaney, ninth- to 12th-grade vocal music teacher, director and musical director for the show, described it as a “big show.” This will be her 29th year working on the musical.

“We haven’t done a Disney show for a long time, and I just knew I had the kids that could pull this off,” she said. “It’s a big singing show.”

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She also felt she had a great group of seniors who would do well in a bigger show to finish their time at school.

Auditions were before Labor Day, and rehearsals started right after auditions. Including stage and tech crews, there are over 60 students involved in the production. And Heaney wanted a big cast.

She described the music of the show as “lush and gorgeous” and said it was a “grand production.”

The biggest challenge she has faced was working with student schedules, and said the students did as much as they could. She also admitted technical aspects of the production were tough.

On the other hand, she admitted working with this year’s seniors was easy.

But her favorite part of doing musicals was watching students become performers.

Ava Cunningham and Joseph Yoon will play the title  roles of Belle and Beast.

This will be senior Angel Hernandez’s third show. Hernandez, who plays Lumiere, was involved in “Mamma Mia!” and “A Year with Frog and Toad.”

Hernandez, who is considering a career as an actor, wants to be involved in music and musicals after graduation.

He described Lumiere as a “very flirtatious” French servant in the castle who “got all the girls it seems.”  

Fellow senior Kailey Boettcher plays one of the three silly girls who — along with Jaya Stout and Evie Dawson — runs around fantasizing about Gaston, follows him everywhere he goes and fights with Stout and Dawson to win him over.

Boettcher has been involved with fall musicals since eighth grade and has been in “Freaky Friday” and “The Addams Family” to name a couple.

“I love being able to just connect with people and being able to put on a production for everyone to see,” she said. “I love being able to create bonds with all of the people that are here, and I have so many friendships here.”

Ninth-grader Bella Navarrete is part of the chorus and decided to audition because she felt the experience would help her meet new people and gain new experiences.

This is Navarrete’s first musical, though she performed “Beauty and the Beast” in fourth grade with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre.

The show also marks the end of Heaney’s time as director, as she plans to retire at the end of the school year. She will not do a spring play, though she didn’t know if the school planned to do one.

“It’s time for me personally,” she said. “Of course it’s bittersweet because I love doing musicals. It’s one of my favorite things.”

Her interest in musicals started at a young age when her mother, who served as a drama director at a high school, took her to school practices.

“I’ve always wanted to be on stage, and then as I grew into the teacher role, of course then I assumed the director business,” she said.

Heaney has been at the school for 30 years, and her favorite part about doing shows was the memories they created.

“When I look up and see that they are bitten by this performance bug, that’s what makes it all worth it,” she said.

To that effect, Heaney said there were students she worked with at school who went on to perform after graduation.

Hernandez described Heaney as “an awesome, committed teacher,” while Boettcher said it was “amazing” to work with her.

“She always puts 110% into everything she does no matter if it’s a music event or if we’re going to a music event,” Boettcher said. “She always wants more, she always wants us to learn something from it.”

Navarrete said Heaney made it easy for her to be herself.

“I’ve grown a lot as a person and as a singer because of her and I’d like to give her credit for that,” she said. “She’s been a great supporter in my singing career.”

“Beauty and the Beast” will run 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the high school. Tickets are $6 for students and seniors and $8 for adults and are available at alschools.org/tickets. They will also be sold at the door.

“I know they are going quickly,” Heaney said. 



Belle: Ava Cunningham

Maurice: Evan Musick

Gaston: Logan Strom

Lefou: Tim Chalmers

Silly Girls: Jaya Stout, Kailey Boettcher, Evie Dawson

Beast: Joseph Yoon

Cogsworth: Ryan Utz

Lumiere: Angel Hernandez

Babette: Joey Maiden

Mrs. Potts: Bailey Abrego

Chip: Aaron Garcia

Madame De La Grande Bouche: Hannah Willner

Monsieur D’Arque: Luke Wangsness

Enchantress: Lara Westrum


Michaela Attig, Callie Brownlee, Keith Buchanan, Axel Calderon, Corrin Calderon, Chloey Casequin, Staysha Christensen, Alexia Conley, Logan Cox,  Lilly Crissinger, Lia Cunningham, Kuol Dual, Maya Fuller, Stephanie Galvan, Aidan Halvorsen, Connor Hanson, Adele Helleksen, Sahara Hernandez, Addison Herr,  Alyssa Jensen, Brooklyn Lee, Kylie Lee, Hayden Lowe, Gigi Madrigal,  Bella Navarrete, Nataleigh Nelson, New New, Miguel Palma, Gracie Palmer, Mayzie Paulson, Lee Roldan, Mariajose Ruiz, Erika Saindon, Katelyn Schmidt, Maggie Schulz, Brooke Tufte, Trey Villarreal,  Madi Whelan, Lara Westrum, Jaelani William


Violin: Rebekah Crissinger,  Alyssa Schmidt

Cello: River DePoppe

Bass: Parker Jensen

Harp: Brock Besse

Horn: Matt Dorman

Bassoon: Gayle Brownlow

Trumpet: Ross Knutson, Maxx Richards

Flute: Amy Chalmers

English Horn, Oboe: Suzanne Mauer

Clarinet: Ruby Mykkanen

Percussion: Brodie Rassler, Courtney Oakland

Keyboard: Diane Heaney, Mary Bissen, Lilah Aas

Stage crew

Stage manager: Marissa Hanson

Backstage helpers: Tayla Hendrickson, Al Bierman, Daniel Clark, Jeanne Stinehart, Claire Ladlie, Autumn Warrington


Avery Mauer, Carley Ladlie, Trey Shaw

Set Builders

Avery Mauer, Rowan Possehl