CHRISTIANSBURG — The fourth and fifth graders brought down the house with the closing song:
“Tale as old as time,
“Song as old as rhyme,
“Beauty and the beast.”
The Falling Branch Elementary School Drama Club presented “Beauty and the Beast” to classmates during two performances on April 6.
Play directors Leslie Dalton, Laura Earp and Laura Hubble, prepared 26 students, who met after school every Tuesday for fourth months, for the year ninth year of the FBES Drama Club production. Holiday and weather closures prompted the directors to add Thursday practices in February.
BES music teacher Tara Yates served as musical director, while librarian Angie Perdue crafted costumes and props. Second-grade teacher Jennifer Buchanan supervised makeup, while art teacher Maggie Maloney oversaw set construction.
“We recruited everyone in the school to make this production work,” said Earp, a FBES reading specialist.
The Christiansburg High School Drama Club also provided support. Senior Ashlea Conner volunteered as assistant director, while CHS students worked the light and soundboard on performance day. The lightening was provided by CHS volunteer extraordinaire, Bo Newcomb. During a dress rehearsal, the sound system was not functioning properly, so Newcomb borrowed microphones from the CHS Music Department through Mandi Townley, the CHS choir director.
Henri the Painter, played by Mason Slusher, was excited but nervous on performance day. “This is my first year in the Drama Club,” he said. “I saw the drama performance last year. I wanted to know if I can do this.”
Lola Woods, as Beauty, was all smiles. “I love acting,” she said.
Some already had stage experience. “I have done talent shows before,” said Candence Spaulding, playing Beggar 2.
During a break in performances, the students ate pizza in the art classroom and critiqued themselves. Beast played by, Addison Eyler, said, “I made a few mistakes in my lines, but I have learned to just go with it.”
Kenny Conner played the role of Pappa, Beauty’s father. He credited the help of CHS Drama Club students with memorizing his lines. Aubrey Shanks, as Florence Flowers, said, “The high school students taught us how to direct our voices and make the crowd listen to you.”
Sparkle, the candelabrum, was played by Juliana Russo, who said, “(CHS student) Ashlea Conner) was in the corner of the stage and was able to whisper our lines if we forgot them.”
The flurry of activity before the second performance had Dalton shouting for makeup, bathroom breaks and order while an audience filled the gymnasium. “I feel like I have been yelling at them since December,” she said. “There is an excitement in the children. It has been wonderful to watch them become the characters.”
The FBES Drama Club provided two performances to their schoolmates on April 6 and a PTA performance on the evening of April 7. A cast party was held April 11.
“When the students sing at the end of the play, it is so precious,” Earp said. “You realize it this was all worth it.”
– Lisa Bass, contributing writer