By Sarah Plummer
Students in the Woodrow Wilson High School Musical Theatre Program plan to use the lessons they learn from their upcoming production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” to talk about bullying with younger students.
The group will have three special performances for elementary and middle school students and already has 2,000 students signed up to attend.
“Bullying is a huge problem in school, and we see several bullies in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ The townspeople bully Belle and ostracize her. And both Gaston and the Beast are bullies,” explained Drama teacher Melinda Wills.
Teachers who bring their classes have access to a study guide prepared by the theater program and can assess the WWHS Musical Theatre YouTube channel to hear the students talk about experiences with bullies.
Hannah Wood, a junior playing Belle, has found a strong connection with her character.
“I love my character. Belle pushes me to be a better person. She looks for kindness in everyone,” she said.
Wood said she finds she is acting more like Belle in real life, “which is great, because she is someone everyone would want to be like.”
Sophomore Tristan Vaughan will take on the role of Beast.
He said his experience with the high school’s theater program has been very rewarding.
“It’s like a family here,” he said.
In addition to the group’s commitment to sharing the lessons of the musical, the show itself is the biggest challenge they’ve faced yet.
Music teacher Dawn McGinnis said the costumes and set alone are bigger and more elaborate than in the past.
The group is also dealing with the difficulty of the musical score by using OrchExtra, technology that allows student technician Miranda Woody to fill in the Woodrow Wilson Band with missing orchestral sounds. She will be following along with the conductor, adding instruments where needed and making the pit band sound larger than life.
“There is a lot of pressure with this show,” said Woody. “Disney is held to high standards. People will expect Disney magic.”
McGinnis said, including techies, around 100 students will be involved in this year’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
The group is still taking donations to help cover the cost of production.
To help the group or to purchase tickets, call 304-256-4646 ext. 7129 during school hours or 681-220-8108 after hours.
Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students. Performances are 7 p.m. Jan. 12, 17, 18 and 19 with a matinee show at 2 p.m. Jan. 12 in the Woodrow Wilson High School Auditorium.
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