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SWCS To Present Disney’s ‘The Descendants’ March 7-9

Members of the cast of Southwestern Central School’s production of “The Descendants” are pictured.

A large cast and crew of talented students is rehearsing to present Disney’s “The Descendants” to the community in the Southwestern High School auditorium in March.

More than 100 students — nearly a quarter of the school population — are involved on stage or behind the scenes.

The family-friendly musical follows the children of Maleficent, Cruella de Vil, Jafar, and the Evil Queen as they are invited to attend Auradon Prep School. This next generation of villains must decide whether to walk in their parents’ wicked footsteps or redefine their legacies.

Nearly four dozen Trojans are collaborating to entertain the public at four performances scheduled Thursday to Saturday, March 7-9, at 7 p.m. with a special matinee performance on March 9 at 2 p.m. The matinee is a special production featuring a prize drawing for anyone who attends wearing their favorite Disney costume. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the door or at search.seatyourself.biz/web…/accounts/swcs/buy-tix

Popular songs from “The Descendants” include “Rotten to the Core,” “Be Our Guest,” “Set it Off,” “Evil Like Me,” “Good is the New Bad,” “If Only,” and “Night is Young.”

Members of the cast of Southwestern Central School’s production of “The Descendants” are pictured.

“The cast is very diverse and we have a program that draws all different types of students and talents to the stage,” Christine Beichner-Miller, says head director and costume mistress. “We had so much talent that for the first time in the 14 years I have been directing, we had to double cast two roles.”

Many cast members are returning to the stage and there are also several novice performers. Several middle school students are also performing.

Joslyn Brown (Mal) has been participating in the annual musical since she was a fifth-grader.

Senior basketball star Reece Beaver (double cast in the role of Maleficent with Marley Ohl) is brand-new to acting as well as sophomore wrestling standout Tavio Hoose (Chad).

Another dual role features senior Rachel Leroy (former Sound Board operator and first timer on stage) and sophomore Meredith Kimball (played the Sour Kangaroo in 2023).

The four main Evils (principles) consist of two veteran performers: Senior Joslyn Brown (Mal) and senior Aly Dalton (Evie) as well as two tech students who have never appeared on stage before: Senior Tommy Cassuccio (Carlos) and Senior Sebby Tilaro (Jay).

In addition, a faculty member to be named later is being featured as a character.

Local businesswoman and SWCS alumni Jaclyn Haskell, owner of Dancing with Victorias, has been offering choreography assistance since November.

“She has created some incredibly technical numbers including hip hop performances. She has taken a group of students, most with little to no dancing or little dancing skills, and created a real dance team,” says Beichner-Miller, who along with Joslyn Brown have worked on choreography for numerous scenes in order to present even more dance performances than were featured in the SWCS production of “Anything Goes” a dozen years ago.

The Tech Crew stepped in to assist in record numbers: 35 students are participating plus another eight are working on props with Dana Lovecchio.

“They do everything from building the sets, painting, and running the sound and light board,” says Beichner-Miller. “Sue Huther is also backstage as the stage right manager during shows and all of the tech crew students will make scene/set changes in less than 30 seconds during blackouts.”

There are more than 10 unique changes to the set over the 18-scene show, and they built an addition to the stage to house a special performance.

Costuming “The Descendants” is a feat in and of itself as each cast member has a minimum of three outfit changes. High school secretary Lori Calimeri and community member Jill Uber have been helping with detail work and sizing on the nearly 200 costume pieces.

The cast and crew includes: Joslyn Brown as Mal, Aly Dalton as Evie, Sebby Tilaro as Jay, Tommy Cassuccio as Carlos, Reece Beaver and Marley Ohl as Maleficent (two shows each), Oliva Cipolla as Grimhilde, Matthew Bieleta as Jafar, Rachel LeRoy and Meredith Kimball as Cruella De Vil, Sam Kautzman as Ben, Neves Hoose as King Beast, Payton Swartz as Queen Belle, Grace Anderson as Fairy Godmother, Lucy Brown as Jane, Tavio Hoose as Chad, Sydney Dawson as Audrey, Declan Kennedy as Doug, Clarissa Hren as Royal Page, Chloe Yu as Royal Guard, Sharlena La as Coach, Abbey Galati as Show White, and a special guest appearance by a performer to be named later as Maurice. The ensemble comprises: Lucy Brown, Sofia Cama, Sharlenna La, Chloe Yu, Clarissa Hren, Braya Beaver, Sarah Sigler, Marley Ohl, Reece Beaver, Gracie Sigler, Maddy Wakeley, Payton Swartz, Rachel LeRoy, Elin Fagerstrom, Bella Sirianni, Kaitlyn Miller, Charlotte Beaver, Mikaela Luce, Macie Bruce, Cameron Case, Ryen Hebner, Abby Copely, McKenna Bogdanowicz, Jaidyn Newhouse, Meredith Kimball, Alexis Grijalva, Olivia Cipolla Sophie Kreinheder, Aubree Thompson, Neves Hoose, Matthew Bieleta, and Sydney Dawson.

Beichner-Miller is in charge of designing the set (including choosing colors and the overall aesthetic), creating the light cues, blocking/staging all actors, creating and working through characters, public relations, costume design, schedules, communication between all directors, executive decision making, and more). Vocal director Marci Johnson is in charge of getting students voices prepared and teaching the songs. Tech director and business manager Sue Huther handles executing set design and building, public relations, managing money, posters, coordinating volunteers and communicating with all companies with which they are collaborating. Art director Jenny Brown is in charge executing all painting on stage while pit conductor Cody Hiller handles the pit music performance.

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