A tale as old as time and a song as old as rhyme, “Beauty and the Beast” is set to open this Saturday at the Hevelone Center.
The musical is a production of the Beatrice High School Concert Choir, and will begin on Saturday at 3 p.m., with additional showings on Sunday at 2 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m.
The production features costumes that might best be described as remarkable. Designed and built by Lesley Gould of Nebraska City, the elaborate costumes—enough for 85 actors on stage—sparkle and shine as students dance across the stage.
The song “Be Our Guest” features dancing and singing dinner plates, salt and pepper shakers, teapots, candles, forks, spoons and knives, with a stage packed with intricate costumes.
“Beauty and the Beast” is the story of an arrogant prince who is unkind to an enchantress who then turns him into a beast and his castle staff into an army of inanimate objects. The main character is Belle, a young woman who lives in the nearby village who is imprisoned inside the beast’s castle.
Directed by concert choir instructor Kelly Meyer, the show is the culmination of a quarter’s worth of hard work, he said. It started with auditions for the lead roles at the end of the last school year, but as soon as August came around, they hit the ground running.
“That's our project,” Meyer said. “So we learn all the music, the staging, the acting, the timing and everything that has to go with that and then we try to get it ready for the stage and run a weekend of performances.”
Usually, they have eight weeks to get everything done, he said, which is just enough time. This year, they had an extra week, which was helpful to smooth out a few wrinkles.
There are nearly 90 students involved with the show, Meyer said, with 85 on stage and a handful working backstage and on the light and sound boards. Being able to get that many students involved is no easy feat, considering all the other activities going on at the high school.
For example, Whitley Kleveland, a senior who plays the role of Belle, just qualified for all-state chorus for the third year in a row and has both school and extra-curricular activities she has to plan her days around.
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“I teach piano,” Kleveland said. “So I set up my piano students on Wednesdays when we don't have rehearsals so that every other day after school I am available.”
This is the third musical at BHS she’s been a part of, though it’s the first time she’s had a main role, having served her time in the chorus of other shows, she said.
Along with the student involvement, Meyer said, parents and other teachers have been instrumental in getting the show ready for opening night.
BHS Band Director Andrew Johnson designed the set, which features a village spreading past the wings and the elaborate stone castle behind the curtain. Once it was all designed, parents were brought in to start the building process.
They began in mid-September, Meyer said, meeting on Monday nights to build and paint, and the set was finished just this week.
“We've had great help from parents in the community that have kids or have had kids in the program,” Meyer said. “I had a couple of parents that had a kid in the program but don't have any now, but they still love doing this.”
The costumes, made by hand by Gould and her mother, fit perfectly and look great under the lights, Meyer said.
Seeing everything come together to work on everything from set construction, painting, artwork, costume organization, acting, staging and getting everything fine-tuned for opening night is very satisfying, he said.
“It's really been a community effort,” Meyer said. “We've been very fortunate that we have good help out there. Because I couldn't do all of this by myself.”
Tickets are available at the high school on the days of the show and cost $10 for adults and $5 for students in preschool through high school.