NEWBURYPORT — Nock Middle School students will take to the stage this evening to breathe life into some of the most beloved Disney characters of all time.
Under the direction of eighth-grade English teacher Mike Pirollo and with musical accompaniment from retired music teacher Joe Nuccio, the students will resurrect Belle, Gaston, Beast and a castle full of larger-than-life tableware for five magical performances of "Beauty and the Beast."
And in the telling, they may just prove that the once-thriving Nock Middle School theater community has been resurrected, as well, coming back with its largest-scale performance since budget cuts decimated the program in 2007.
"I've never put something on like this in 11 years of productions," Pirollo said. "How can you go small with something Disney? Everything is larger than life — the set, the props. We have two giant-sized pies the waiters carry around — it's pretty elaborate."
As in the past four years, when Pirollo and other volunteers patched together shows with the help of parents and staffers, this year's show features magical sets constructed and installed by local parents and craftsmen like Glenn Markey, Jeff Sarra and Mike Barlow, costumes hand-sewn by a team of parents and a painted backdrop created by Amesbury mural artist John Moors, who worked for a time as a designer at Universal Studios.
"We've had so many companies and businesses help us out," Pirollo said.
It's so exquisite, one wouldn't know that this year's production was chosen at the last minute, when the planned production of "The Wizard of Oz" unexpectedly fell through.
"We were actually supposed to do "The Wizard of Oz," but we had some issues with the contract," he said. "We had already done auditions and were ready to go and start rehearsing. But in actuality, it couldn't have been a better thing that happened, because these kids are really meant for these roles."