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Dodd Thespians To Bring Out “Beauty” In Play

March 13, 2011 by John Rook

All classes had ended at Dodd Middle School by 4 p.m. on Monday and, for the most part, the hallways in the building were empty.
Yet, in the cafeteria, sounds of life could still be heard. In fact, music, singing, and laughter was emanating from the room at such a high volume, it seemed to fill the all but empty school.
“This cast, they are a very energetic group,” explained Dodd teacher Kristen Shanley, who was in charge of keeping the rambunctious students in the cafeteria in order. “It can be a challenge to keep them focused, but that energy is perfect for when they get on stage.”
All this week, students have taken to that stage to rehearse the upcoming Dodd school play, Beauty and the Beast, Jr. The musical, a condensed version of the popular Broadway production based on the famous tale of mismatched love, will be performed next week during three shows, and the young thespians have been busy practicing for the big night.
Beauty and the Beast, Jr. is the tale of Belle, a beautiful young woman looking to escape the confines of her village and the advances of her main male suitor, Gaston. However, in her quest to find adventure, Belle ends up a captive in the castle of the Beast, a former prince who was turned into an animal-like creature by an enchantress as punishment for his uncaring behavior.
The only way the Beast can turn back to his former self is by finding true love.
As the play progresses, Belle and the Beast begin to form a relationship, but can a beautiful young woman ever truly fall for such a monster?
“Definitely, the best part of this play is the message,” said Molly Silverman, who plays Belle. “It shows that what you have inside will shine through.”
Silverman, despite her young age, is already a veteran performer. Having acted in several plays and taken singing lessons to perfect her craft, Silverman has a passion for the stage and the excitement it brings.
“It is such a big adrenaline rush,” said Silverman. “I just love the fact that you can be a different person up there and show everyone what you have.”
As Belle, Silverman must project a bold, confident young woman not easily frightened or scared off from the things she wants. It is a character Silverman has grown to love, the young thespian admits, and she feels honored to have been cast in the role.
“The fact that they believed I could do this, and could be convincing as Belle, means a lot to me,” she acknowledged.
Keyes Dorsey plays Belle's brash suitor, Gaston, a part he has enjoyed immensely.
“He is supposed to be a little stupid, so it has been fun playing a role like that,” said Dorsey, smiling. “I really like that this is one of the more comedic plays that I have done.”
In evaluating his fellow cast members, Dorsey stated his belief that each actor was put into the right role, something that will make the production go smoothly when it comes time for opening night.
“(The teachers) did a great job. Everyone is perfect for their part,” said Dorsey. “They definitely picked the right people.”
The idea for Beauty and the Beast, Jr., first came to Shanley when she and another teacher attended a performance of the show at the Warner Theater last year. When the educators saw the sets and the costumes, they thought it would be perfect for a younger group of actors.
Also, since the original Beauty and the Beast was made into a Disney cartoon, many of the students were already very familiar with the tale and the songs that accompany it, such as “Be My Guest” and the title song, “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Knowing the story and the songs is always a help in getting the kids into the play,” said Shanley. “And, they are very excited to see their costumes.”
As the group has rehearsed, Shanley has seen growth in the cast members, and watched as each actor has grown more comfortable in his or her role.
“You can see when they realize it is all coming together. That's when they know it is working,” she said.
And, she is hoping that growth, and excitement will translate onto the stage.
“They are a great group and I think it will be a great production.”
Dodd Middle School will present Beauty and the Beast, Jr., on March 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. in the Dodd cafeteria. There will also be a 2 p.m. showing on March 19.
Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $10 for adults, and can be purchased at the door.

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