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The Tiger Online

The student news site of Little Rock Central High School

The Tiger Online

The student news site of Little Rock Central High School

The Tiger Online

A Tale As Old As Time

The theatre department sells out the fall musical, “Beauty and the Beast”
The cast of Beauty and the Beast points to freshman Keegan Washington. Washing plays main villain Gaston during the song “Gaston” on Nov. 2.

The enchanting story of Beauty and the Beast touched theater teacher and director, Patrice Williams years ago. Growing up with this story, she decided to bring the musical to the school’s stage. 

“In 1991, for Christmas, my parents gave me a VHS when ‘Beauty in the Beast’ came out and I fell in love. I learned all the songs. I watched it over and over again. That’s when the love of the musical stuck with me,” said Williams. 

When her rising seniors proposed the timeless tale for the following year’s musical, her decision solidified. 

“It’s always been a dream of mine to direct Beauty and the Beast but I was afraid to because it’s so big”, said Williams. 

While directing this musical is no minor feat she felt the message of the tale was worth all the hard work and extra hours. 

“It’s a timeless story that transcends and touches everybody in some kind of way. It talks about love, how to be inclusive and how to accept and deal with change,” Williams said.

Beyond the story, the experience itself has been meaningful for Williams, given she is an alumna. 

“This is my home. This is my school. I love the theater department because this is where I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life”

— Williams

Similarly senior Abbie Porter, who played the iconic Disney princess Belle, discovered her love for musical theater through the school community, which has set her on the path to pursue theater.after high school.

Sharpay, my first show, and ever since I got my foot in theater, I haven’t stopped,” Porter said. Right now I’m auditioning for college musical theater programs. I’m pursuing a BFA in Musical Theater.”

“I performed in our production ‘High School Musical’ as Sharpay, my first show, and ever since I got my foot in theater, I haven’t stopped,” Porter said. Right now I’m auditioning for college musical theater programs. I’m pursuing a BFA in Musical Theater.”

This being her last musical with the school, stepping into this character was special to Porter as it is so different from her other roles allowing her to step out of her comfort zone. 

“The other roles I’ve played like Sharpay, Wednesday, and Eva have been very sure of themselves, strong willed, and witty,” Porter said. “Meanwhile Belle is more reserved. But she has a strength and bravery that we see progress with the story. It was so much fun to step into something I hadn’t done before.”

Prior to her theater experience and debut role as Sharpay, the only experience Porter had on stage was as a dancer.

“I’m classically trained in ballet, but I’ve always been very physically and facially expressive. Even when I was little, I would do performances in my living room for my parents. Since I was already comfortable on the stage, I was able to jump into theater.”

I come from a world of ballet, which is so strict. You have to be a certain look and a certain size but theater is more free,” said Robinson. “

Entering the world of musical theater was much different coming from the confining, perfectionist values of ballet. 

“Afterwards I thought about what I could have done differently but I realized that not every production is going to be perfect. We still got great feedback and it was such a good show overall,” Robinson said.

As a choreographer, Robinson was also challenged because most of the cast had no prior experience in dance. 

“I’ve never worked with people that don’t have experience in dance. So it was a challenge to come up with choreography that looked good and was interesting,” said Robinson, “It ended up turning out great.”

The cast was not just new to dancing and acting but many members of the crew had never been a part of a theater production. Head of costumes, senior Kate Robinson, and the rest of the costume crew had to overcome the challenge of having many new students on stage. 

“Only two out of the six of us had experience in costuming and very few of us knew how to sew. We had six sewing machines. In the beginning. We had one that was working at the end,” Robinson said.

Seniors Beverly Fan and Joie Willoughby apply makeup before their first dress rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast on Nov. 2.

The elaborate costumes were rented from Little Rock Christian Academy, The Repertory Theatre, and as far as Denver, many costing $150 per costume. 

While some were new to the theater scene, senior Alex Harkins, who played the Beast, has been involved in theater since the age of seven. 

“Central theater has created an atmosphere for me, a drive to get better at something. And just honestly, like, not rely on motivation and more determination,” Harkins said.

In past productions, Harkins has typically played roles he thinks resembled the “prince,” but he found himself having to play the “Beast.” 

Instead of just playing a character, Harkins had to challenge himself mentally for the betterment of the production. 

“This production helped me grow personally. I was able to better understand my limits in terms of how far I can push myself,” Harkins said. “I don’t think people talk about how musical theater affects people mentally and physically. We just like to see what goes on stage.” 

The cast and crew felt that the relationships that were made during their time on set was a key factor in the success of the musical.

“The main thing that I found with this cast was the trust was there and that we had a sense of community that I think the audience was able to see and connect with,” Harkins said.

Freshman Keegan Washington, who played the antagonist Gaston, echoed the impact of the theater community on friendships.

“What I enjoyed most about this show are the new people I met. The theater bond isn’t like any other bond you might have.”

— Washington

As the night came to a close, what Mrs. Williams saw as the perfect cast left with their bonds and experiences. According to Washington, that’s just what she wanted.

“We made Mrs. William’s dreams come true that night,” Washington said. 

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Caroline Baker
Caroline Baker, Reporter
Hi! I am a sophomore and this is my first year on staff. I look forward to improving my writing skills and connecting with new people. Outside of school, I enjoy watching movies, hanging out with my family and being outside.
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