On Wednesday this week I accompanied a group of students from my school to the high schoolÂs production of ÂBeauty and the BeastÂ. I have been hearing raves about this high schoolÂs musicals for a while now (incidentally, I never even hear about the straight plays. I assume they do them, but the fact that no word of it carries down is one of the reasons why I am not inclined to do an after school non-musical Â theyÂre just not as popular), so I went with high expectations.
okay. Some of the set was nicely designed, and the singing was pretty good. I was delighted to find we are not the only school who has mike problems. Their orchestra did well for a tricky show, but it confirmed my choice to avoid live accompaniment as long as possible. I guess I was expecting more given their reputation. IÂve been out of touch with high school performances, so I may be too harsh. I did rejoice a little (silently) that our ÂSeussicalÂ was just a good, though. Our choreography was definitely better, thanks to KelleyÂs phenomenal work.
Perhaps I am too critical of shows. My students enjoyed it Â they praised it nicely in class the next day. The thing is, I stopped being able to simply sit back and watch a play a long time ago. When I see a play, my mind races. I am constantly 1) scanning the production for ideas to use in the future and 2) thinking about what I would do differently. ItÂs enjoyable for me, but I am not so sure about those who ask me what I think about it.
Ultimately, I decided we wonÂt be doing ÂBeauty and BeastÂ anytime soon. ItÂs just not a great show. The dialogue is stilted, and thereÂs not much room for development or new interpretations. I mean, thereÂs only so many ways an actor can become a teapot on stage. And when the costumes take away most physical choices an actors makes, it becomes a show about the costumes, rather than the characters. ThereÂs just no way to do that show without spending a fortune. If I were going to do a Disney show, IÂd much rather do ÂLion KingÂ. Of course, IÂd love to direct ÂAidaÂ as well, but somehow I donÂt see that one getting approved by our principal. Drat.
I enjoyed seeing my former students on stage again, though, especially in a show that I wasnÂt involved with. I felt a rather parental-like surge of pride whenever they came on stage, which was a little odd. Oh, and I had a current student up there, too, although I never noticed him. My dear stage manager volunteered to do tech work on their show, so he moved some set pieces on and off and worked their fly system a bit. When I told him after the show that I didnÂt see him at all, he did a little happy dance. I loved it Â he bought a long sleeved black shirt just so he could wear the proper techie uniform. He was all decked out in black, right down to the piece of duct tape over the logo on his black baseball cap. My little techieÂs growing up! And my conversation with him about his work after the show is an archetype of what I love about this age. IÂve watched him become a techie, rather than having him come to me ready-made. WhoÂd have thought IÂd love teaching junior high? But, you know? I do.
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