By Chris Marchand
The Dryden High School drama department is in the home stretch in its preparation for a staging of Disney musical Beauty and the Beast Junior, April 30, May 1,2,3.
Drama teacher/director Ellen Bloomfield says casting has solidified following the usual shifting lineup of actors and actresses since auditions were staged in October. She adds that the legendary winter of 2013/14 has played havoc with rehearsal schedule — losing six rehearsal sessions between water main breaks and bus days.
“We thought we’d be way ahead of the game by now,” said Bloomfield. “But accounting for ‘acts of god’ we probably are right on track, but with a shorter show than usual.”
Bloomfield says the suffix ‘Junior’ tacked onto the musical’s title denotes that it is an abbreviated version of the full-length production, clocking in at around one hour, 15 minutes with no intermission — a very family-friendly production.
Bringing the ‘Beast’ to life will be student Matt Kereliuk with ‘Belle’ staffed by Liz Bloomfield. Cecily Wilson will play Mrs. Potts, Austin Robinson the role of Cogsworth and Nick Clarke as Lumiere.
Bloomfield says DHS music teacher Ryan Graham has become actively involved in providing vocal instruction.
“It’s really paying off,” said Bloomfield. “It’s exciting to see them learning and taking leadership themselves. In here I’m working with them on the dramatic elements of it and putting the musical numbers together with the storyline, with him (Graham) focusing on the music like that — you can see the kids’ growth.”
Also, for the first time since the production of Fiddler on The Roof, the DHS arts students have joined the effort to paint a 30-foot mural on the back wall of the stage depicting the castle in which the play takes place as well as a painted stained glass window — an important set piece for the play.
“It’s exciting that the senior arts students are involved in that and they seem pretty proud of their work too,” she said.
With many roles to fill, Bloomfield says the production is even drawing two Grade 5 and two Grade 6 students from Open Roads School —opting for younger students as the Grade 7/8 drama students were too deeply involved in their own recent production of Wizard of Oz.
“These four energetic Open Roads students make a nice addition,” said Bloomfield. “It will be nice for when they come up into the high school in a few years — they’ll have some expertise.”