Disney classic sells out fast
Bellerose High School offers Beauty and the Beast
Saturday, Feb 08, 2014 06:00 am
Musical theatre director Mark Samuel sits in the music room, an odd assortment of instruments ranging from a massive double bass to a brassy tuba.
Under his practiced hand, Bellerose Composite High is mounting Beauty and the Beast at the Arden Theatre from February 11 to 13.
And Samuel is grinning like a Cheshire cat. Tickets are selling like hotcakes and he couldn’t be more pleased.
Before the public performances, the school usually hosts a preview for students from other schools. Usually the preview performance fills up over several days.
However, within three hours of sending out emails, Samuels received 1,200 ticket requests. The Arden holds 500 seats.
“It’s the fastest response we’ve ever had. It’s partly because Beauty and the Beast is a popular Disney show and partly because our program has matured and people have heard about the kind of work we do,” Samuel notes.
But it’s not only ticket sales that create a barometer for Beauty’s popularity. Last fall, 60 students auditioned for roles, double the amount of previous years. Samuel cast 40 students.
This is a full-scale school musical involving every aspect of theatre and numerous departments. Instructor Judy Smallwood has rounded up an efficient crew from the school’s technical theatre course.
About 15 technical students are working on sets, props, costumes and makeup. Not stopping there, they have worked with Arden staff to design lights and sounds. During the production, they will be in charge of the light board and soundboard and directing traffic backstage.
Working with students’ innovative ideas has been key to the production’s success says Smallwood. Although the musical is Disney created, everyone wants to put an individual stamp on it.
When it came time to creating Lumiere’s fiery look, six designs were submitted. To create that touch of originality, actor Gabriel Gagnon suggested an orange Mohawk hairstyle similar to a flare that would parallel the lights on his hands, Smallwood adds.
For the first time this year, the fashion studies department has pitched in, sewing the more complex costumes. Under the mentoring of fashion design instructor LuEllen Anderson, five students volunteered to design and sew costumes for Belle, Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Wardrobe and the Feather Duster.
Although the Bellerose fashion program was only instituted four years ago, Anderson felt students were confident enough to tackle the thorny problems of costume design.
“They had done sewing in previous classes. They had a real desire and wanted to pursue their skills to create something that would fit the character and work for the performer.”
The student designer sewing Mrs. Potts’ voluminous costume, for instance, was working with 11 metres of drapery fabric that had to be pulled in at the bottom to create a round look.
Lumiere’s costume, on the other hand, is stiffened and festooned with lights, whereas for Babette, the feather duster’s dress is built from snap-on boas that can be quickly unsnapped when she reverts back to being a human.
The magical world of the Beast’s castle promises to be filled with eye-popping colour and texture. However, Samuel also has high praise for the choreography of dance students Taylor Joseph and Annika Hanson.
“Dance makes the show. Human beings are conditioned to visually participate in movement. This group is extra strong. This is the best group of singers we’ve had. When you merge singing and dancing, it’s really the very heart of musical theatre,” Samuel says.
While the adornment is on the exterior, at its heart Beauty and the Beast has a simple message.
“It’s timeless, universal and simple. It’s about the possibilities that love creates. There’s redemption in love. The arrogance of Beast shows he is disconnected from his heart, but in the end love leads to redemption when he shows the willingness to love and lose.”