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The City Journals

South Jordan Elementary students to perform ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Mar 28, 2017 10:22AM ● By Julie Slama

South Jordan Elementary will hold four performances of “Beauty and the Beast” featuring 115 school children. (South Jordan Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

About 115 South Jordan Elementary school children will take to the stage late April and early May to present “Beauty and the Beast.”

The 90-minute production will be performed for the community at 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 28; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturday, April 29; and 6:30 p.m., Monday, May 1 at the school’s multi-purpose room, 11205 South Black Cherry Way. Donations for the ongoing theater program are being accepted.

The five-year tradition of hosting a school musical began when third-grade teacher Scott Knight was hired.

“I took a class in college about how to teach music to elementary kids, and in a book, there was a musical for kids, and I thought, ‘how cool — I want to do that,’” he said. “I told the principal I wanted to direct choir and offer a musical. It’s my passion.”

That first year, South Jordan students performed “Pirates of the Caribbean.” The next year, Knight directed two musicals: “North Pole Goes Rock ‘n Roll” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“It was a little over the top to direct both a musical and a holiday concert,” he said.

The last two years, the students have performed “Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King,” respectfully.

With each cast, the interest has increased, from 40 students in “Willy Wonka” to 115 third- through sixth-grade students this year.

“We created two choruses so everyone could have a part, and we double cast the girl leads,” Knight said. “Each year, it’s getting bigger and better. I love it.”

With the larger casts, the staging and costumes have improved. This year, the multi-purpose room will have a multi-level stage by using platforms to enlarge the existing stage. Students also will help as the stage crew, and parent volunteers are assisting with backdrops.

Knight began rehearsals earlier than past years with general acting classes offered once per week in November.

“This gave students a chance to work on their skills and be better prepared for auditions the first week of January,” he said.

Once students were cast, the acting classes resumed, being skill specific to their parts. In early February, before school as well as after school once each week, students learned the music. In late February, choreography was added. In March, they began learning staging, and before the show, students will rehearse with costumes and props.

Directing the show along with Knight is fifth-grade teacher Diane Witt-Roper, who is helping with costumes and sets and has directed “Beauty and the Beast” at Bluffdale Elementary; second-grade teacher Alan LaFleur, who is choreographing the show and has choreographed shows at Salt Lake Community College’s Grand Theatre; academic support teacher Renee Jackson, who is helping students with their accents; and academic support specialist and opera singer Rinda Clyde, who is a drama coach.

Knight said through being involved in the musical, students learn new skills.

“This gives students who don’t always shine in the classroom a chance to shine on stage,” he said. “I see their self-confidence get a boost as they discover and develop into dancers, singers and actors. The skills translate into oral presentation, following direction, working as a team and memorizing helps improve their reading levels.”

Students and their families will have a chance to see the new live-action release of “Beauty and the Beast” in movie theaters before they take the stage.

After the show, students will be given a fun “Beauty and the Beast” certificate, photo and a chance to purchase a DVD of the show at cost.

“We have a cast party and celebrate their performances and what all they learned while having fun,” Knight said.