Beauty and the Beast opens at Summit High School Theater on February 13. Though the show is a full theatrical production with an adult cast of almost 20, there are also 31 kids in the show, each playing multiple roles and involved in the play’s entirety.
These kids, ages 8 to 18, are part of an intensive performing arts workshop program offered by Thoroughly Modern Productions. Workshop participants rehearse and prepare for the play, and are trained in all aspects of theater performance in the process.
“The icing on the cake is the show,” says David DaCosta, director of Beauty and the Beast and founder of Thoroughly Modern Productions (TMP). “This program is more about the training. Every workshop participant is getting the same foundation in musical theater, and then we branch out into their specific roles.”
The only program of its kind in the area, TMP’s first workshop program was over the summer of 2014, culminating with six performances of The Wizard of Oz. The program lasts about three months, and meets three times per week for two to three hours per session. Participants are trained by working professionals in dance, theatre and music. With DaCosta teaching the acting elements of the workshop, Dakota Weeda, owner of Terpsichorean Dance Studio in Bend, is choreographing and teaching the dancing for B&B and Scott Michaelsen, a freelance professional musician, accompanist and music director, is overseeing the musical aspects of the show.
The three worked together on Oz as well. “The partnership between David, Dakota and myself is the perfect synthesis,” says Michaelsen. “We work perfectly together. The mission of having kids work with adults makes the whole experience more professional for the kids. I am thrilled to be a part of that.”
DaCosta says that although the workshop is fun, it also involves a lot of hard work for the kids. “We give them a large amount of responsibility. They are in the show all the way through it. These are not scaled-down junior versions of shows; they are full-scale theatrical productions.”
“I really like acting and being on the stage and performing for people,” says Abby Busch, 9, who is teacup and a townsperson in B&B. I was in the Wizard of Oz and I really liked TMP and wanted to do more with them. My favorite part is the dancing; it’s really fun.”
Siena Baker, 15, is one of the teenage workshop participants who was also in Wizard and is now training to be a workshop counselor. “I like that it’s truly a workshop, it’s not just a rehearsal,” she says. “We are learning so much from Dakota, Scott and David. It enhances all of our skills.”
“I love the friends I’ve made, as well as the experience,” adds Alana Cole, 11, who shares the role of Chip with one other performer and is also a teacup, townsperson and wolf. “I love that TMP is a very friendly environment, and I love the singing and that you get to put movement to it, plus the emotions you get to put into your character.”
Though the TMP program is for kids, the productions are very much family affairs, with many of the parents and other community members donating time and energy to assist with costumes, sets and other areas of involvement.
One returning workshop parent is Chris Wulf, whose 12-year-old son Luke has participated in both TMP workshops. Chris assisted with makeup and other backstage duties for Oz and now is helping with costumes for B&B. “This is a wonderful opportunity that I am thankful for,” she says. “Luke has learned so much about theatre because of the leadership of David, Scott and Dakota, and because they make it fun. I am really delighted to see Luke shine and grow through this program.”
Because the adult cast and child actors work together side by side, a rapport is developed, and the workshop performers learn from their grownup counterparts. “The kids are working with professional actors who have done lots of theater, and they treat the kids very well,” says Chris Wulf. “Everybody likes everybody else. There are nice young adults modeling good stage etiquette for our kids. They really all work together as a team.”
Tickets Beauty and the Beast
February 13-15 and 20-22
Summit High School Theater
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
Newport Market on Newport Avenue in Bend
$22.50 for Adults and $18.50 for seniors and children un