Steamboat student thespians present ‘Beauty and the Beast’
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s a tale as old as time — well, as old as 1740, when French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve penned the fairy tale “La Belle et la Bete.” Two hundred and eighty years and several film and theatrical adaptations later, a local cast and crew of young adults bring the story to life once again.
Steamboat Springs High School theater students will present “Beauty and the Beast,” starting Thursday, April 4. The play will run Thursday through Saturday for two weekends.
The production’s cast involves more than 80 students — about a quarter of them middle schoolers — and a crew of about 20.
The program has come a long way since director and high school drama teacher Jamie Oberhansly was hired in 2011, when the spring play cast list featured about a dozen students.
“I wanted to make theater a really happy, fun thing to be part of,” Oberhansly said. “I wanted to take away the stigma that theater can be mundane. I wanted to do some really fun, exciting shows to get teens into theater again.”
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During her tenure in Steamboat, Oberhansly has directed a large number of productions, including “Sweeney Todd,” “Legally Blonde,” “Grease” and “Urinetown.”
Oberhansly’s committed presence is far from the only leadership in the show. All over stage, backstage and in the sound and lighting booth, high schoolers are learning and teaching each other skills, managing sections and making key decisions.
Student choreographer Delaney Johnston has designed much of the show’s dancing.
What: Steamboat Springs High School presents “Beauty and the Beast”
When: 6 p.m. April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13; kids matinee 2 p.m. April 6
Where: Steamboat Springs High School, 45 East Maple St.
Tickets: Reserved seating: $20; general admission: adults, $12, children, $10, and with student activity pass, $8; and VIP, $35. To purchase reserved or VIP tickets, visit the high school office.
“She checks everyone’s abilities and then choreographs knowing what she’s got to work with,” Oberhansly said. “So, we have lots of students, flips and amazing ballet dancing. I trust her implicitly.”
Student projection designer Addison Sandvik helped solve the issue of limited space on stage and backstage. Instead of multiple bulky sets that need to be hauled on and off stage during the show, 17-foot blank walls are the stage’s background. With each new setting a scene calls for, images illustrating the background are cast onto the walls by a projector. Sandvik designed and mapped the imagery.
And while every costume looks borrowed from Broadway, they were actually handmade by the cast and parent volunteers using cardboard and scrap material.
“I’m pretty sure the audience will be blown away by the costumes,” said Julian Bowman, 18, who plays the Beast.
Talent and dazzle aside, the best part of the production, for many, is the sense of community the group has created.
“We’ve gained a reputation of being one big family,” Oberhansly said. “Age doesn’t matter, your sports friends don’t matter … at rehearsals, everyone helps everyone out. The big kids mentor the younger kids.
“I don’t even have to direct them how to be kind to each other — they just naturally are,” Oberhansly added.
“With theater, everyone’s on the same side and supports each other,” Bowman said. “We love Miss O so much, and she’s made this whole thing a great experience.”
Ethan Pyles, 17, plays Gaston’s bumbling, eager-to-please sidekick Le Fou. For most of his life, Pyles had planned on a college basketball career, but in the past few seasons of being involved with the high school theater community, he’s decided to pursue musical theater instead.
“Even if I can’t make a lot of money, I want to be involved with this for the rest of my life,” Pyles said.
Proceeds raised through “Beauty and the Beast” ticket sales will go toward helping local high school thespians engage with the arts at the next level. In December 2018, 15 Steamboat Springs High School students at the Colorado State Thespian Conference — including Bowman and Pyles — qualified to move onto the next level and will compete at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska, in June.
The competition will cost about $1,000 per student.
The curtains open for “Beauty and the Beast” for the first time at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 4.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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