On Dec. 14, 15 and 16 “Beauty and the Beast” comes to the middle/high school to perform on the state of the art stage at the Neil Shapiro Center for the Performing Arts. The performances, which are under the direction of Britney Daley, drama teacher and director of the Winthrop Middle School Drama Society, are sure not to disappoint.
Daley, a veteran director with the society, has been directing some members of the cast and crew, which is comprised of about 100 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, for three years now.
This past Spring winning the gold at the Spring Showcase competition – middle school drama societies from around the state – for their portrayal of a compilation piece on Edgar Allen Poe. Then there were original shorts written, directed and performed by WMSDS; The old classic “Bye Bye Birdie”; and a few years ago was the very entertaining “Seussical.” If you haven’t yet seen a student production at the Neil Shapiro Center for the Performing Arts, it is definitely worth going.
For the article I always ask Daley why she choses to do a specific production as they are quite varied and all over the board, this was her response, “My goal as an educator is to provide students with various and different opportunities. Each year I try to pick shows that are different from the previous year in some way. Last year the club performed “Bye Bye Birdie,” which took place in the “real world.” I was drawn to Beauty and the Beast because it was a fantasy piece which allowed for more creativity in costuming, props and set. It also challenges the students to play “Non-Human,” characters. Finally, I have yet to present a Disney piece with WMSDS and the kids were begging to do it!”
I am excited to see this production as there is an elaborate stage and costume changes. My son, Samuel McSweeney told me most cast members have two roles and that he is “a villager” and “a candle.” I am not so enthusiastic because I am a parent to a member of the cast. I am enthusiastic because once the curtain comes up and the production begins, I feel like I am watching a Broadway production. Yes, these kids are that good.
Daley, takes each production very seriously to the point of turning middle school students into actors. She posts rehearsals using theater terminology; has a strict absentee policy; and she and the students from actors to crew and everyone else involved – lighting, theater manager, etc. – all work hard to make it work superbly. My son has a following of elder friends and other fans who won’t miss a WMSDS production. They are amazed by the talent they see onstage. And as a parent, like the majority of the parents of the children, we go to all three of the performances and each time we laugh at the funny parts and we have a different take away. I was at an event tonight and was promoting the production to some people I know and I was telling them that I attend all three shows and was reminded by Eileen Wickham – that grandparents like herself attend all three shows – as her grandson Eli Wickham has a part in the play.
The Winthrop Middle School Drama Society greatly appreciates how much this community supports the arts. Come out to see the magic between the Beauty and the Beast. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
Tickets can be ordered at: www.winthropdrama.com or at the door.