ESHS students to present Beauty and the Beast, Jr. this weekend

Thursday, February 13, 2020
Kaitlyn Kelley (a silly girl), Celia Stodden (Belle), Sam Gay (Beast), Jacob Eastburn (Lefou), Hannah Kelley (Chip) and Emma Hutchens (Mrs. Potts), actors in the Beauty and the Beast musical, stand backstage in the Eureka Springs High School auditorium.
Photo by Haley Schichtl

By Haley Schichtl

The Eureka Springs High School drama class will perform the musical Beauty and the Beast, Jr. at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, and Saturday, Feb. 15, in the high school auditorium.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the door and cost $10 for adults and $5 for students. Eureka Springs students get in free. On Saturday night, there will be a Valentine spaghetti dinner served by FFA at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

The musical includes "Jr." in the title because it has been shortened and there is no live orchestra. Celia Stodden, who plays Belle, said that means the music is all pre-recorded. The process of choosing which play to perform, Stodden said, was a collaborative one.

“We went through a few different plays and watched them, and then voted on which one we wanted to do,” Stodden said.

Jacob Eastburn, who plays Lefou, said the costumes all come from different places. Some of them are store-bought, Eastburn said, and some are taken from past play costumes or out of the students’ own closets.

“I’m just kind of wearing clothing that would fit the time,” Eastburn said. “I own all the clothing I’m going to wear.”

Stodden said they started practicing for the musical in September, which they do every day during their seventh period drama class and lately after school for another hour.

Sam Gay, who plays the Beast, said he’s been participating in plays since his freshman year and is now a senior.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking. Every year, mainly because it’s a student performance, we get a lot of –– we have five days and nobody knows what they’re doing –– but it always seems to come together and work out,” Gay said. “It’s a rush you get when you’re trying to put everything together and then there’s a relief once you finally get it right.”

Gay said he loves the camaraderie of being in drama.

“Every year I’ve been in it, you have new people coming in and old people leaving, so you’re developing connections quickly, but they’re strong connections,” Gay said. "The students said performing in front of an audience can be very nerve-wracking for several reasons, one being the possibility of forgetting the lines."

“Our last comedy, someone went a full page ahead. I don’t remember who it was,” Eastburn said. “But no one knew … and that’s where the memories are.”

“I think that was you, Jacob,” Stodden said.

“It was probably me,” Eastburn said.

Gay said they just learn to run with it, and Stodden said their teacher Rick Mann helps them with that too.

“Mr. Mann does exercises where we do improv stuff, so when that does come up we know what to do,” Stodden said.

Besides the regular concern of forgetting lines –– or skipping them –– musicals are even more nerve-wracking than plays with no singing or dancing, Stodden said. Stodden recalled when the drama club’s last musical, Fiddler on the Roof, was performed last February.

“In Fiddler, we had a lot of singing as well, but this one has a lot of solo singing,” Stodden said. “In Fiddler … had a lot of groups.”

Stodden said Emma Hutchens, who is playing Mrs. Potts, has a beautiful voice, but she is not too confident with her own.

“The thing about group singing, is if someone messes up their line, you have the entire cast to help,” Stodden said. “But for this one, if you mess up your line, no one else is there to fix it.”

Eastburn said that after Beauty and the Beast, Jr. is over, the club will go back into the selection process for the next play, which will be performed around the end of the school year.

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