A Beauty-ful production

[attach]5432[/attach]Creepy creatures roamed the halls and the eerie string music floated through the air at Northern Secondary School on Saturday Jan. 21.

The unusual weekend activity at the midtown school was actually the work of actors and musicians. Students were going through their first dress rehearsal for the upcoming theatre production of The Masque of Beauty and the Beast, a relatively dark interpretation of the classic tale.

“Well, it’s definitely not the Disney version,” said Samantha Haggart, the production’s student-director. “Think more The Brothers Grimm.”

Haggart has been working on the play with fellow grade 12 student Kate Tenenhouse since the summer and said it has undergone several tweaks. Tenenhouse, who choreographed all of the dance scenes, said the pair took a script filled solely with rhyming verses of dialogue and turned it into a musical with a somewhat sinister twist.

“It took a lot of different steps to get the choreography we like right now,” Tenenhouse said. “We started out thinking it would have more fairies and things like that so it was lighter, more balletic.

“Then we decided after we built more of the play up that we wanted it to be darker and more creepy so the music is more contemporary. So it’s a lot slower, lower to the ground, darker.”

The play’s three song and dance numbers are visual and musical interpretations of scenes from the script. The pieces also contain original scores composed by Northern student, Jillian Harrison.

According to Flora Wellsman, the production’s artistic director and the head of Northern’s drama department, Harrison has also been doing an excellent job as the musical’s vocal coach.

“Some of (the students) are discovering their hidden songster inside of them,” Wellsman said. “They’re quite enjoying it and they’ve done exceptionally well.”

Northern’s entire school community has pitched in with the production. Wellsman said the music department is heavily involved in the show, and the school’s tech classes helped build the set. Students in the family studies department as well as some parents have helped with the costumes.

Since no class time is devoted to rehearsals, Wellsman and the students are sacrificing much of their spare time to prepare for the play. For true thespians like Madeleine Rosenberg, who plays the part of Beauty, that is hardly a sacrifice at all.

“I’m so happy when I hear there’s a rehearsal even if I already have plans,” said Rosenberg. “It is difficult with all the other stuff that people in grade 12 try to balance like work and friends but this is something that I love and I’m willing to dedicate my time to.”

Wellsman said she is hoping that dedication pays off on March 1 when The Masque of Beauty and the Beast is performed in front of an adjudicator from the Sears Ontario Drama Festival, a provincewide showcase and competition of high school drama productions.

Members of the public will have their chance to catch the play on Feb. 22–24 at 7 p.m. in Northern’s auditorium. Advanced tickets are $10–12 at the door and $5 for children under 10-years-old.