Be Our Guest Students present annual musical, “Beauty and the Beast”
Costumes have arrived, sets have been built, and lights have been hung to ensure that all of this year’s stars of Cleveland Height’s High School’s annual musical, Beauty and the Beast, will shine. The Disney classic, a collaborative effort between a number of different organizations at Heights, opens Thursday, November 4 and runs through Sunday, November 7.
The Vocal Music Department
On the fourth floor, the Vocal Music Department (VMD) is constantly rehearsing, and there is never a moment without song. “It gets tiring but it’s definitely fulfilling when you’re done and your character’s evolved into something,” says senior Julia Barcus, who plays Mrs. Potts in Cast A of the musical. Sophomore Midori Marsh agrees, “Sometimes it gets really annoying, but it feels good to do something right and having someone tell you, ‘Wow, that’s really good’.” Not all of the actors are completely thrilled with the frequent rehearsals; for many it can be very stressful when combined with the school work. However, the students agree that it is worthwhile. Many actually enjoy going to rehearsals because it is a chance to be with friends. The actors also say that rehearsal helps them master their role. Senior Brian Barron, in the role of Lefou, says, “Being able to see the other cast perform helps us grow as characters. When I see the other Lefou act out scenes, it helps me to get into my own character, and helps me grow.”
The high school is renting professional costumes from the Costume Holiday House in Freemont, Ohio. When asked how much he practices playing the Beast, Senior Josh Toombs replied “Every night, every day.” It is a constant process of learning for all the cast members, who find staying in character the hardest aspect. Senior Jordan Raines, who is Cogsworth the clock, replied, “I have to adjust my walking and speech to match the character.” While everyone is trying to find themselves, it seems that the hardest struggle is interacting with other cast members. In the show the characters Lumiere and Cogsworth have one of the most interesting relationships. Senior Jack Lentz (playing Lumiere) describes it as, “a love/ hate relationship; we feed off one another but I basically always have to come out on top.” The actors and singers at Heights work diligently, but they give most of the credit to the their director, Craig McGaughey.
McGaughey, who is directing his fourth musical in his eleven-year tenure at Heights, brings together over 500 students from the elementary, middle, and high schools to create the fall productions. Junior Maddie Pollis, who plays the role of Belle in Cast A, explains, “I think that he [McGaughy] has a very clear vision of what he wants and, once you get it to work how he wants it, it turns out well.”
In the meantime, members of stage crew have been diligently working on this year’s set. Led by teacher and technical director Keith Newman, the crew has created a massive and beautiful set, from the first nail to the last brush stroke. Though these crew members are hidden from sight for nearly the whole production, the show would cease to exist without them. Their main objective is not only to prepare for the production, but also to make sure everything runs smoothly throughout the show. The sound technician, light operator, and stage manager make certain the musical is executed without a glitch.
The Instrumental Music Department
Of course, where would a musical be without musicians? Every VMD musical has relied on the music provided by a live pit orchestra composed of Instrumental Music Department students and professional musicians. This year, Daniel Heim, orchestra director at Heights High, hopes to present an all-student pit orchestra. Student musicians enjoy the unique experiece of performing theatrical music. French horn player, Colin Higgs, says that, “the music that you play is really different than what you play in band or marching band. You are exposed to playing music in a different format that’s a lot more personal and involved.”