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The City Journals

Be our guest! Crestview Elementary pleases crowd with ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’

Jan 28, 2019 04:30PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Crestview Elementary’s production of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” filled the auditorium three nights in a row in November. The leads in the front row are L to R: Zach Johnson as LeFou, Sophie Halliday as Belle, Lakota Johnson as the Beast and Luke Sperry and Gaston. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Who doesn’t love an elementary school play? Watching the special kid in your life wear a homemade costume and say one well-rehearsed line is priceless. Crestview Elementary took the idea of a school play to the next level when they presented “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” for three nights in November. 

Crestview’s production was directed by Stephanie Strasser, who made the play as professional and inclusive as possible. It included programs, a spotlight, great sets, body mics, stage crew and a minus track for songs.

“Steph has worked so hard to make this a good experience for the kids. She’s gotten a lot of parent support and community sponsors. She’s been resourceful about borrowing things and done a lot of fundraising,” Principal Teri Cooper said.

The show was also about being inclusive. “It was open to fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Everyone that tries out is cast in the show,” Strasser said. Her daughter Emmy was in the show as Cogsworth and had to audition for her mom.

“To audition you had to memorize some lines and sing a song. Then you found out your part and got a packet to take home. It had the script and all the information in it,” Emmy said. 

Emmy, a sixth grader, was hilarious as the enchanted clock Cogsworth. “I didn’t really care what part I got as long as I was in the play,” Emmy said.    

Fifth-grader Lakota Johnson played the Beast. He’s been on stage crew before, but this year he wanted to be in front of the audience. “It was really fun to be the Beast. I got to have lines and all my friends were in the play. The Beast doesn’t sing as much. I was fine to get a part where I don’t sing,” Lakota said. 

Claire Wirthlin played the Enchantress and the Rose. Claire was on stage almost the entire time being the rose, losing petals and “wilting” in the background. 

Gaston and Le Fou (“the fool”) were a wicked duo played by Luke Sperry and Zach Jackson. Zach perfected his flattery and evil laugh skills, and Luke saw his character leaking onto the playground. “I’d come out to recess and everyone would scream and say, ‘It’s Gaston!’” Luke said. 

Luke also really enjoyed the singing. Luke’s neighbor Jacci Halliday was the music director for the play and knew he could sing. “I think that’s part of the reason I got the part,” Luke said. 

Sophie Halliday, a fifth-grader, played Belle. “I was nervous to audition because I really wanted the part of Belle. I told them when I auditioned what part I would like to be, but also that I didn’t care as long as I was in the play,” Sophie said. 

With 90 student cast members, rehearsals ran from right after school until 5:00 nearly every afternoon, with each day of the week dedicated to rehearsing one aspect: blocking, choreography or music. 

Emmy loved seeing it all come together, especially the costumes. “At the first dress rehearsal, everyone’s minds were blown at the costumes. One mom made all the costumes for the silverware and the plates,” Emmy said. 

Parent support was a big part of the play’s success. Many parents helped out backstage, made costumes or sold concessions during the play’s three-night run. They also brought games and helped occupy kids while they were waiting for their turn at rehearsals. 

“We all learned a lot about the process and how much work it is to put on a play,” said Emmy. 

All of the kids agreed that one of the best things to come out of this production was how it brought them together as a student body and made them better friends. “Doing plays helped me get to know more people at school. Now I know Lakota and Sophie a lot better,” said Luke. 

Sophie complimented the whole cast and crew. “I thought that everyone was so amazing. Everyone did their parts perfectly. It made me feel good because we worked hard on it and it was so much fun,” Sophie said.