‘Beauty & the Beast’ at FHS Feb. 28-March 1

Farragut Middle School musical theater class will present the musical “Beauty and the Beast” beginning at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28; Thursday, Feb. 29; and Friday, March 1, in the Studio Theater at FMS, 200 West End Ave.

The performance is open to the public, and tickets are $5 per person, according to Ruth Ann Bendy, one of the chorus directors at FMS, along with Hailey Coburn.

“Tickets do go very fast,” she added.

There are about 30 eighth-grade cast members, as well as other committees, such as business, which helps design T-shirts and sells tickets; costume committee; sound and lighting committee that runs microphones, new lighting board and spotlights; and dance committee that help choreograph the show.

The cast consists of Olivia Smith as Belle, Sawyer McAvoy as the Beast, Paxton Wilson as Maurice, Hayes Sharp as Gaston, Paxton Pitts as Lefou, Brock Allen as Cogsworth (the clock), P.T. Mayfield as Lumiere (the candelabra), Finlee Ozias as Mrs. Potts (teapot), Katherine Buchanon as Babette, Gracie Hamlett as Madame de la Grand Bouche and Anderson Glover as Chip (teacup), among others.

“I feel amazing,” Smith said about playing Belle. “It’s really just an honor to be chosen for such a great role.”

This is her second opportunity to perform, as she played a pirate in “Peter Pan” musical while attending Northshore Elementary School.

“It’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but it’s fun,” Sawyer said about playing the Beast. “It’s a different personality playing this role.”

He has played in a couple of commercial advertisements and a couple of musicals, “The Little Mermaid” and “Willie Wonka” when he was younger.

“This is a very student-run (musical theater) class of 91 students,” Bendy said. “They design everything.

“We try to step back,” she added. “We think it’s good for them to really learn what’s in making a production and what the directors would have to cover by themselves.

“This way we can delegate to our stage managers who are in charge of different committees, and they can get a sense of leadership and teamwork.”

At the beginning of the year, “We put them in groups,” Bendy said. “They do presentations on different musicals and then they ultimately decided (by vote) to do ‘Beauty and the Beast.’

“Because if they’re for the show, then we’re going to be for the show,” she added. “It’s going to be so much better for them. They’re going to be more into it because they feel like they got to choose the show.

“We are actually the only middle school in the county to have a musical theater class during the school day. All other musical theater classes either happen before school or after school, so it’s a real blessing to have it during the school day instead of trying to get 91 students to come before or after school.

Confident FMS can grow its musical theater program, “We do singing rehearsals during class,” Bendy said. “We try to learn the music before we start putting it all together.

“Then we have solo rehearsals in the morning,” she added. “We pull out small groups.”

To purchase tickets, contact Bendy at ruth.bendy@knoxschools.org or call the school, 865-966-9756.