APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Fox Valley Lutheran High School is preparing for the opening night of their spring production, Beauty and the Beast, but don’t pull out your laptop just yet.

The school is performing the show in person, with limited seating. There will also be a pre-recorded version that will stream online during the live performance. Blake Larson, a senior at Fox Valley Lutheran, is playing the role of the “Beast.” Larson is grateful he is getting the opportunity to perform on stage for his final year at FVL.

“Last year, I was really nervous that we weren’t going to be able to have something like this, and so it’s just been very I would say also lucky that we’ve been blessed with so many people and faculty and staff to be able to allow us to come here and perform live,” says Larson.

Elise Nolte, a junior at Fox Valley Lutheran, is a newcomer to FVL’s musical productions. Nolte will be playing the main character, “Belle.” Nolte, a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast, has enjoyed participating in her first high school theater production.

“I love the show Beauty and the Beast and I have been looking into being part of the musicals. Also, I really love the music and the songs. To get the part was a really amazing thing, and I had so much fun with it,” says Nolte.

Students and faculty faced their own set of unique challenges this year, incorporating special masks and social distancing into the production. The cast is wearing “singing masks” made with wires that keep it from getting sucked into their mouths when they sing.

“I think a lot of us were really nervous going into it with COVID with all the restrictions for social distancing and the masks, but I think we’ve definitely figured it out as we went. We have singing masks so that we’re able to sing. It also has helped with our acting a lot too. Learning to not only depend on our mouth moving when we say something, we have to use our body to do it and our facial expressions,” says Nolte.

Wearing masks has pushed the students to become better actors by improving their physicality. Students had to use their body and hand gestures to get the audience’s attention instead of their voice.

“To be able to push the kids to become physical actors. I think that’s a hard thing for high school students, they rely so much on their voice. That’s one of the benefits of being able to perform during a time like this. Is that we worked on skills that we otherwise maybe wouldn’t have focused on as much,” says Bixby.

“All along, knowing that at any moment the show could get shut down, but it was like we made the decision that we were going to do this for the kids. We didn’t want these kids to miss out on the opportunity to work on their craft and become better actors and dancers and singers, and so even if the show had never made it to the stage, it still would have 100% been worth it,” says Bixby.

There will be three performances of Beauty and the Beast: March 5 and 6 at 6:30 p.m. and March 7 at 2 p.m. The audience will be able to attend the show in person or online. For more information on the school’s production of Beauty and the Beast, click here.