When the cast of Ossining High School’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” sings “Be Our Guest,” they’re not kidding.
Ossining has a tradition of not charging an admission price to its theatrical productions and that is case again this year.
But don’t let the price fool you: There are several ringers in the cast.
Noah Weisbart once sang with the Metropolitan Opera. He plays the overblown Gaston.
Lila Coogan was Jane Banks in “Mary Poppins” on Broadway. She’s the thoughtful Mrs. Potts.
The entire ensemble has been hard at work during a condensed five-week rehearsal schedule to breathe life into the inhabitants of a small provincial French town.
There’s Belle, of course, and the Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth and crazy old Maureen.
Yes, director Ryan Spector has turned Belle’s puttering, slightly crazy dad, Maurice, into her puttering, slightly crazy mom, Maureen, played by junior Sarah DiRenno.
“It’s a really big character piece,” DiRenno said. “You have to get in that state of mind where you can’t be embarrased. You have to throw yourself out and leave all humility at the door, take the plunge, make the funny noises, do the faces, to make her pop.”
“She’s a fun character, right up my alley,” said DiRenno, who last year played the evil stepmother in “Cinderella.”
Last year’s Cinderella is this year’s Mrs. Potts, junior Lila Coogan, as the china-bound woman of the house who sings the show’s title song.
“It’s nerve-wracking, because everyone’s expecting an Angela Lansbury version and I wouldn’t call myself an Angela Lansbury. I think she’s brilliant, but mine isn’t similar to hers.
“It’s my favorite part of the show, to sing it and watch Jason and Mykaela dancing. They’re doing great and it’s wonderful to watch them come to life and truly love each other.”
Sophomore Mykaela Copeland and junior Jason Rinaldi play the title characters.
Copeland said she has grown into the role.
“When I first approached the part, I knew she was a high soprano, but I wanted to put a lot of personality into her, make her come to life. I speak-sing a lot, but I still hit a majority of the notes.”
She acts the songs, too. In the song “Home,” a heartfelt moment in which Belle comes to terms with her new surroundings, Copeland captures the emotional jumble.
Rinaldi played Troy Bolton in Ossining’s fall musical, “High School Musical.”
Playing the Beast requires him to change his voice from Troy’s sweet pop to a gravelly growl, something he does with ease. He explained that he used to front a hard-core band, Plethora, “so I got used to screaming and using the low voice with a scratchy sound.”
Noddy Khan, a sophomore, plays Lumiere, the candelabra with a wild French accent and a Frenchman’s joie de vivre.
“One of the things I struggled with was that in 90 percent of the show, I have to go completely bonkers, like in ‘Be Our Guest.’ But there are moments when he is reserved.
“I think he’s more human that the rest of the objects,” Khan said. “He’s the least transformed, a hilarious, spontaneous guy, but if his master doesn’t fall in love with this girl, he could be dead.”
The stakes are that high.
Gaston, the over-the-top egotist who wants Belle for his wife, is played by freshman Noah Weisbart.
“He’s so big and hammy and showy that if you play him too big, he can come off as a bit sissy in a way, like he’s posing for everything,” he said.
Still, he said, “He’s a lot of fun to play, definitely one of the most fun characters I’ve ever played.”
There’s a lot of physical work for Gaston, including the pivotal scene in which he battles the Beast.
(“Stage combat is my jam,” Weisbart said.)
The work of the hard-working and inclusive ensemble alone — in big production numbers such as “Be Our Guest” and “Gaston” — would be worth the price of admission.
Even if there isn’t one.
What: “Beauty and the Beast”
Where: Ossining High School 29 S. Highland Ave., Ossining
When: 4 p.m. April 15; 7 p.m. April 16, 17; 2 p.m. April 18—Free, donations accepted
Tickets: Free, donations accepted.
With: Jason Rinaldi, Mykaela Copeland, Andrea Denis, Noah Weisbart, Caleb Hersh, Sarah DiRenno, Yoav Schoss, Noddy Khan, Maddy Nocero, Lila Coogan, Emma Preston, Wendy Temple, Adam Woodley, Amanda Agosto, Katelyn Zhinin, Kaila Barnes, Kristen Sigurdsson, Briana Kreamer, Julian Boucher, Olivia Shaw, Natalie Mackintosh, Raquel Barbieri, Julia Faiella, Stephanie Andoy, Liz O’Hanlon, Katrina Calofia, Danny Aviles, Alexa Boyle, Patrick Nichols, Simone Adams, Andrew Grieco, Ian Vecchiotti, Francisca Majias, Kitt Poncheron, Thelia Bennett, Brian Perez, Yesenia Campiglia, Coleman Thomas, Amanda Valdivia, Alejandro Alfaro, Jessica Oglesby, Oliver Gulian, Carina Scorcia, Jake Quinn, Lexy Santiago, Daniel Vasquez, Elana Sitnik, Kevin Rodriguez, Sophie Adelman, Rachel Bass, Ali Simon-Fox, Leigh Graham, Yoshitaka Goto, Jason Hickey, Gloria Ibanez, Nicole D’Emic, Maggie Steadman, Frances Russel, Haley Gorycki, Jessica Fleishman, Camille Finn