Beauty and the Beast Jr. (2017)

Blake Summer Musical Theatre Institute – Middle High session

WARNING: Looking at these photos on your phone’s screen will cause you to miss unspeakable amounts of enjoyment. Being a musical, most scenes have a lot of cast, who look like ants on your tiny pocket-size screen. Find a real computer with a real monitor – there has to be at least one in your house – to enjoy all you’re about to see.

The cast’s challenge was learning lines, blocking, songs and dances in four weeks. The crew’s challenge was turning lumber, foam and paint into a castle in about half that time. My challenge was bringing you photos of a play I wouldn’t be in town to shoot. By the end of the final dress rehearsal, the cast was doing a fine job being silverware, wolves and villagers, the scenic team had a move-in-ready castle onstage, and I had what amounted to a study of three days in the life of Blake Summer Musical Theatre Institute.

From Wednesday’s photos through Friday’s – covering three short days of dress rehearsal – you’ll see, if you have the patience to go through them all, not only a dramatic increase in the cast’s self-assuredness and stage presence, but some of the direction and coaching that got them there. You’ll see Mr. Bowerman and his assistants very actively demonstrating and developing in their young entertainers a wide range of stage skills that included ballroom dancing, fighting, swooning, tough-guying, rabble-rousing and sneaking into a beast’s castle.

As important to the show as Gaston being a pompous he-man and the developing chemistry between Belle and the Beast, are the expressions and reactions of the Ensemble to what leading characters say and do. Love-struck for Gaston and heartbroken over his pursuit of Belle, dismay and disgust over Belle’s love of books, and the whole village hitting the deck after one of Gaston’s mighty roundhouse blows are all things that look completely natural to us when they happen, but would stand out like a beast in a beauty pageant if they went missing. Ensemble cast learned well from their coaching, indeed.

Most of us see the show for the first time from the house (where all the seats are) on opening night – and a lot of us every night until final curtain. I hope you enjoy this rather lengthy backstage look at the three days that led up to opening curtain. Will you see photos very similar to others you just saw? Absolutely! This was Blake’s best-attended Middle High Summer Musical Theatre Institute that I remember, and my goal is to give every actor and actress photos of their performance to show off.

Wednesday’s photos present a good look at the onstage directing. Highlights from Thursday and Friday will give you the plot points, and the Thursday and Friday sections show the increasingly polished performances of both casts. You can share links to the photos from within the collections, and I hope you’ll find a photo or three worthy of your wall, scrapbook or special project. 25% of all purchases goes back to Blake Stage Company to help keep this dynamic program going strong.

Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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