This week the Grade 5 musical, Beauty and the Beast Jr., debuts at the McPherson Playhouse. After months of hard work, the young actors and singers will perform two shows at the Mac. The musical is a condensed version of the popular Disney movies, but still features the great songs, characters and scenes that you know and love.
The SMUSpaper sat down with a few of the actors to talk about the experience of putting on a Grade 5 musical:
Tell us about your character.
Stuart – The Beast is angry a lot of the time and he wants everybody to do what he says. It’s a really fun role because you get to be mean but then he becomes nicer. I like playing the Beast because I don’t really like singing and I only have one small solo bit. Even though I’m not mean, I think the Beast suits me.
Ivanna – I play a villager and a wolf, and I’m glad I have these roles because I get to sing, which is what I wanted to do, and I think I would probably forget my lines if I had a bigger role. I like these roles, especially the villager, because I’m not a really open person but when I sing I can pour my emotions into the song and express myself on stage that way.
Rishi – Lumière is very energetic and he’s always happy and he makes everything better. He doesn’t care what other people think. I relate to him because I like being funny. I wanted to play Lumière because I heard the song he sings, Be Our Guest, and it got stuck in my head so I kept singing it and all my friends said, “You should audition for Lumière!”
Isha – Belle is a feisty woman who stands up for herself and wants to get out of her shell. She loves adventures and just being out there. I like playing her because she is just so nice and really supportive. I love singing all her songs, too. She really suits me because, like her, I think I am open-minded and independent.
What are you most excited about and most nervous about?
Stuart – I’m most excited about the whole musical. I just like watching people perform and it’s really cool watching the show from backstage, not just from the audience. I’m nervous about the singing because there are parts where it goes from a low octave to three or four clefs higher and back down, and that’s really hard.
Ivanna – The thing I’m most excited about is my solo part in Scene 1. I get to sing, “Now it’s no wonder that her name is Beauty,” and I’m excited to do that. But I’m also nervous about it because I could miss my cue and if I come in too late everyone else who sings after me will be messed up!
Rishi – I’m excited about the singing because I’ve never really sung on stage before. I’ve acted and danced on stage, but never sung. I’m nervous that I’ll miss a cue on stage, but we’re doing lots of practices so I think I’ll be okay.
Isha – I’m most excited for just being up on stage because I’ve never done a big performance before. My sister is in a lot of performances and I’ve always helped her and been there to support her, so I’m excited that I actually get to do the performing this time. I’m most nervous about having an awkward moment; either saying a wrong line or messing up the timing, like saying a line too fast. I love public speaking and for that you can say things at your own pace. But for the musical I have to say things along with the music so my timing can’t be too fast or too slow.
Why should people come and see Beauty and the Beast Jr.?
Stuart – I think a lot of people like watching children perform and a lot of people will say, “That’s so cute,” but we’re also going to do a really good job!
Isha – I think a lot of people have watched the movies so they know it and would like to watch it live on stage.
Ivanna – It will be rewarding to see kids put on the show because we aren’t professionally trained so we perform how we feel. We just want to express what the character is saying and feeling, and have a lot of fun!
What has the experience been like putting on a Grade 5 musical?
Stuart – It’s been really fun and exciting. There’s also been some out-of-your-comfort-zone bits. Like at first I really didn’t want to sing and now I’m confident in my singing, but I’m still nervous. And all the rehearsals have been fun! Mr. Hawes has been in a lot of musicals so he knows what he’s doing and how to make a good show.
Rishi – It’s been fun getting closer to people. I’ve made a lot more friends now because of the musical.
Isha – I really like it because I’m learning a lot about performing. Like Mr. Hawes says to me, “Try to be yourself. How do you think you’d react in a situation where you’re in a castle with enchanted objects? Don’t act how you think Belle would react, act how you would react.”
Ivanna – Musicals bring people closer together. Even if you’re not a main role you get to know everyone who is in the musical really well. I feel like this experience has been good because you get to try on costumes, you get to go to different places to perform and you get more friends by doing something you’ve never done before.
Beauty and the Beast Jr. runs June 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets and more information are available on the McPherson Playhouse website.