Nebraska City High School’s musical, Beauty and the Beast, which shows Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., continues a communal tradition of inclusion and education for music students.
A total of 63 varsity singers appear on the stage during the NCHS musical, but the contributions of students go far beyond their performances.
Stephanie Stanek, co-director along with Shari Whitehead, said students are responsible for all parts of the production, from sound, lights and sets right down to the programs and tickets for the musical.
By being in charge of all fascets of the production, Stanek said students are afforded a more well-rounded experience than they might have enjoyed in another setting.
The all-out effort by the students is unique and a tradition that sets Nebraska City High School apart from other schools.
“That’s what makes it our little community,” said co-director Whitehead. “We have to help each other out.”
Work on the NCHS musical began before Christmas, first with the selection of the work to be performed, and then with auditions. Students began to settle into their parts and rehearse after the Christmas break.
Whitehead said all parties involved have put in copious amounts of labor and that planning out the musical was no small part of that effort. Through all of it, Whitehead said the students were up to the challenge.
“The kids are amazing,” said Whitehead. “It’s a great group of kids to work with.”
The first challenge of the production was to tie the acting elements together with the music. Sounds easy, but it’s not.
Stanek directs the musical elements of the production while Whitehead is in charge of the acting.
Whitehead said two directors are definitely required to make it work.
Turning to the cast, the Beauty and the Beast production’s lead characters of Sam Biaggi, as the Beast/Prince, is complemented well by Belle, played by Natalie Turner.
Biaggi, a junior, is no stranger lead roles, having played the Wizard in the NCHS production of the Wizard of Oz two years ago.
Stanek said it has been fun to cast Biaggi and noted that he has the range, both as an actor and as a singer, to pull it off.
Turner, a sophomore, has shown on-stage maturity and youth-filled exuberance that allows Belle to come to life on stage.
“She’s doing a fabulous job,” said Stanek. “She has worked really hard. She was the first to know her lines.”
Other characters of the play include:
Logan Martin as Gaston
Schyler Behrends as Lefou
Lukas Huge as Maurice
Fernando Dominguez as Lumiere
Erik Rodriguez as Cogsworth
Ashley Robinson as Mrs. Potts
Shea Kinnison as Babette
Lilly Frields as Madame de la Grande Bouche
Madeliene Stanek (Hayward student) as Chip
Wyatt Roberts as Monsieur D’Arque
Bret Homan as Narrator
Macy Neumeister, Sarah Murrah, MJ Seaburg and Alysia Vukich as Silly Girls
Mackenzi Berglund, Sarah Bogle, Cameron Brannen, Nick Brown, Katie Conrad, Gregory Cornell, Jessica Davis, Jenna Dirkschneider, Jonah Harring, Baily Hartman, Kailey Hein, Dylan Holman, Nick Hower, Missy Leonard, Maddie Reimers, Jesse Rodriguez, Lily Ross, Noah Russell, Maiven Sammons, Joshua Stidd and AnnaMarie Stukenholtz as Townspeople
Molly Allgood, Madison Bolton, Jacey Bossung, Kaycee Driever, Tarren Doty, Rebekah Eloge, Abby Gocek, Addie Hoyle, Katelynne Howell, Noah Hughson, Julia Jacinto, Julieta Martinez, Chass Rinchich, Gerardo Sanchez, Ximena Sandoval, Sydni Tellez, Morgan Thomas, Christian Tietz, Gabriela Valquier and Samuel White as Enchanted Objects
Sarah Bogle, Kaycee Driever, Ellie Higgins, Dylan Holman, Katelynne Howell, and Josh Stidd as Wolves.
Just a few notes about the cast:
Logan Martin has had to learn what would normally be considered bad character traits in order to bring Gaston to life.
For Lukas Huge, playing the character of Maurice, language has been a key to success.
For Erik Rodriguez, playing Cogsworth, Beauty and the Beast was a first.
And Fernando Dominguez, playing Lumiere, is working on skills that will help him in college and beyond.
Whitehead said the directors have been encouraging Martin to act in a more arrogant and self-centered manner. That’s because, without those traits, no one would believe Martin’s portrayal of the brash Gaston.
Huge, a German foreign exchange student playing the part of Maurice, has displayed a mastery of his second language of English and while that might go unnoticed by the audience, it’s definitely noted by the directors. Whitehead said Huge also puts in a lot of work on the sets.
And, for Rodriguez, his efforts to bring Cogsworth to the stage represents his first foray into the world of drama.
Dominguez is working as the technical director for the production and plans to study elements of that job after he graduates high school.

The Show
All of the work for the Nebraska City students culminates with performances on Friday and Saturday. As the actors worked through their paces on Thursday night at the dress rehearsal, energy and excitement were evident while anxiety lurked below the surface.
Nerves are only natural before opening night, but Whitehead said she saw plenty of things at dress rehearsal that made her confident heading into Friday.
As the students work through the process, there are times when the production appears chaotic, but Whitehead said hard work eventually leads to the right result.
“In the end, it all comes together,” said Whitehead. “It looks like a tornado, but it comes out as a beautiful flowing river.”