Four Stars! Talented Grade School students
with talented parents present annual operetta.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Beebe School March 4, 2000 - Sunday
I went to a local elementary school play yesterday.......a BIG annual event! The experience was a combination of exciting, lovely, cute, serious, and sometimes funny. Throughout, the audience got the feeling that the Kindergartners through Fifth Graders were doing their very best at a proper age-level assignment, and, all the while, enjoying themselves to the hilt. I met a lot of the proud audience and among the glowing remarks was sometimes the revelation that so-and-so "....is SOOO shy! But look at him on stage! He comes right out of himself! He loves it!"
"The Tale of Beauty and the Beast" had two full casts, each performing one evening and one afternoon production. Each cast was comprised of twenty-four roles and about twenty chorus performers for a total of close to ninety student actors. Their parents produced the extravaganza with the teachers' and Principal's full cooperation. Let me tell you.....these parents were wonder-full. (I came up with that word after scouring my brain for just the right one.) Some parents had worked and produced since last spring; others started sewing and painting last autumn; still others rearranged their family life to accommodate their stars' schedules. Some went to rehearsals to maintain cheerful order, and then showed up in black jerseys and slacks at the performances to help out with costumes and continuity in the backstage community.
There were those parents who have been Producers for hours, days, weeks and months of creative energy and cheerful labor: the talented and diplomatic Production People who have continued raising their families, running their households, working at their careers, watching the rest of their young family's scholastic accomplishments, and providing varied recreational outlets for every family member. In addition to all of the above, they survived this production with smiles on their faces and a surety in their minds and hearts that they had individually and collectively produced a fine, fun experience for their families.
Actors, actresses and Production Staff......they all have earned Four Stars.....make that Five Stars.
I got to the Middle School early on this second day of the final rehearsals and about eight of the alumni sixth grader stagehamds were waiting in the auditorium, up by the stage, for the entire dramatic group to arrive from the Beebe Elementary School.
One helpful student told me that her Mom, Laura Hume, was in charge of costumes, another worker told me that his Dad, Brian Thorp, was in charge of the music. They said that the parents had made the background scenery and also props like the barrels and the pushcart.
In the rear of the darkened stage stood a twenty-foot ladder with an ascending and descending man, unidentifiable in the shadows. Later, Mark Forth, the Lighting Director, was telling his young assistant how to secure the cable they were running down the aisle from the back of the auditorium. There were at least three or four fathers doing bustling jobs and quietly holding consultations when necessary. John Harrison was alone near the back entrances, behind a large sound control panel. He pointed out that the lighting controls and the operators, Mark Forth and Chris DeThomas, were in the booth above his head.
Some anxious starlets waited politely to ask their serious questions about shoes, costumes, etc. which The Director, Laurie Frank, answered lightly and graciously with a confident affirmative "Yes" or "OK." She was the in-tune-with-everyone smiling Director, Ambassador, Diplomat, Counsellor, ad infinitum, on a cheerful grade school level.
The Beebe School gym teacher helped the three or four mothers keep order among the cast sitting on the left side of the auditorium. I noticed only one fifth grader who seemed to be "browsing" the gathering, looking for a little "action". It never materialized.
One young helper, a little apart from the rest of his on-stage crew, did a professional prat-fall, downstage center, but no one responded. He shuffled back to his working group.
Josephine Saraceni was a member of the Production Team along with Chris Palmer and Laura Hume. She summoned a fourth grader to stand in front of her as she tried on him a hat she had made for Scene Two. She removed it, slowly cut the opening larger and larger to fit it to him until she was satisfied.
The Director, in a pleasant voice, asked for attention and everyone quieted down. She announced that they were about to start and anyone who had to visit the bathroom should do so now. There was a mini-exodus.
Suddenly, the lights in the auditorium were blacked out and on stage one of the lighting devices that the crew had been working on began to shower a kaleidoscope of colored lights for a minute of testing. As the regular lights came up, one fifth-grader standing near me said quietly, "That was cool!"
Colleen Kirby, Assistant Director, standing halfway up the stairs that led to the stage, captured the attention of the seated players, and laid down the Rules for Rehearsals. She then called out the names of some of the parts to go to the backstage hallway to be costumed. I'm sure that her counterpart on the other team, Donna Johanson, did exactly the same at the alternate days' rehearsal.
Those gradeschoolers that sat and waited their turn to be on-stage, occupied themselves in small groups. Some had a hand-held puzzle game. Quiet conversations went on between others in groups of twos, threes or fours.
There was a stagehands' instructional meeting being held on stage. In two groups, each practiced moving the six-foot-high folded scenery so that, first, one side faced the audience, then they changed the setting to the back side of each piece and produced a different scene. The large pieces they slowly hoisted and moved were exceptionally realistic and filled the stage with warm, homey scenes, enhanced by the creative, professional lighting. They were created by Rich Traversy, Patty Norton, Lois and Amanda Conroy, Darlene Dadley, Nancy Naslas and Mary Houten.
Much to my delight, the players began coming out, in their costumes, from the backstage dressing rooms. It seemed that they walked differently than from when they had gone in. Some were wearing gracefully swaying hoops beneath their long skirts, others wore pinafore aprons which they occasionally flipped with their hands as they danced by. Some boys were in masculine, woodsy bolero jackets with matching pants. There were some over-the-head-to-ankle costumes, wired to keep their shape, and many, many more.
The creative talent of Costumers Kaylee O'Malley, Laura Hume, Pat DeYoung and Penelope Young cast a theatrical spell, and thus, illumined the players with the magical aura of becoming "someone else."
Amy Mack and Ellie Falvey had plenty of information for publicity.
The tickets for the public to view these delightful scenes, costumes and performances were distributed by Beebe parents Barbara Baker and Joan Nordberg.
The duties of R & R (Raffle and Refreshments crew) were carried out by Kathy Driscoll, Carolyn Payton, Meg Birdlebough and Mary Houten. Occasional flashes from a camera (was it Julie Laverty, Photography) captured candid poses which will live on for scores of future years.
It was decided to put a Special Thanks note in the program to recognize Chris DeThomas' contribution to the lighting and sound.
The Stage Crew, so pertinent to the play's success, were some Beebe School Alumni Dan Baldwin, Tommy Brennan, Geneva Frank, Ashley Hume, Donald Hume, Nicole Hume, Ryan Johanson, Betsy Johnson, Ross Martin, Kristen Oxley, C. J. Palmer, Jennifer Rafferty and Dylan Thorp. Filling the same positions were Mike Birdlebough, Anna Chirico, Jeff Donohue, Sam Grant, Paul Laverty, and Andrea Nordberg.