Ralston High School assistant principal Ryan Pivonka this summer will prove no one hits like Gaston or matches wits like Gaston in the Omaha Community Playhouse’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Last week, it was announced that Pivonka will play the villain in the Disney musical, which will run from May 26 to June 25.
“It’s gonna be good, they’re putting a lot of effort and resources into this one. It’s a great cast,” Pivonka said.
Pivonka certainly has the background for the role. This will be the eighth performance of Pivonka in an Omaha Community Playhouse production, and he also spent 11 years as the choir director at RHS.
Ever since the musical was announced during the spring of 2016, Pivonka knew he wanted the role of the handsome yet arrogant Gaston.
“For guys, he has the most singing and the best songs, and he’s just obnoxious and fun and over the top, and that’s what I like to do,” Pivonka said.
Although actors are often cast for roles other than the ones they try out, due to the time commitment involved, Pivonka knew Gaston was the only role for him.
“Time is at a premium with the school year as busy as it is,” Pivonka said. “Basically I only get to do one show a year.”
Rehearsals, which start April 3, last seven weeks and are held six days a week. The production, however, will begin after school ends for the summer.
Pivonka noted that the other administrators at RHS have also been understanding of the amount of work and time involved in this role.
“That’s why it’s awesome that the administration team here understands this is a passion of mine and allows me to do that,” Pivonka said.
The production will begin just two months after the release of Disney’s live-action film, which was released Friday. For many theatergoers at the Omaha Community Playhouse this summer, the story and songs will be fresh in their minds.
The original animated film was released in 1991 when Pivonka was in middle school, so he knows all the songs quite well. He’s most looking forward to performing “Kill the Beast,” because of the intensity and vocal range required.
In that song, Gaston rouses other villagers to storm the castle and, as the title suggests, try to kill the beast. He’s also looking forward to wearing the costume, which includes a wig and hunting outfit perfectly suited for a Frenchman in the 18th century.
“It’s terrible to say, but my favorite song of his is ‘Kill the Beast,’ Pivonka said. “And I’m looking forward to the costume.”
Pivonka also enjoys the social aspect of performing and getting to interact with the other actors on and offstage. Considering he’s no longer in the music department, it’s important he still has the opportunity to do what he loves.
“Music was a huge part of my life and still is,” Pivonka said. “I’m fortunate that I get to keep one foot in that realm.”
As an administrator with many responsibilities, Pivonka also enjoys the fact that he’s not in charge of the production, but simply shows up for his role.
“I’m there to show up, do my part and perform,” Pivonka said.
“I don’t have that need to have to control everything.”