When Podcasts Rule the World

Amelia Coleman, Staff Writer

Every year, when the first semester comes to an end, the LASA musical starts taking auditions. This year’s chosen story was “Beauty and The Beast.” 

The Alley Cat Players’ “Beauty and The Beast” ran on Valentine’s Day weekend from Feb. 10 to Feb. 13. Play production started in December and involved a 14-person cast along with techs, members of tech theater that handle props and build scenes, a pit orchestra, and costume designers. Theater teacher and director Melissa Driscoll was also involved within the musical and not the only faculty member to be a part of the production.

“The choir director is Mr. Lewis, and the orchestra, who is actually going to be playing live, their conductor is Mr. Mayer, the band teacher,” Driscoll said. “The choreography [was created by] a combination of me, a couple of students, Ms. Edwards, the dance teacher, and a couple of her students doing sort of bits and pieces of different things. One of my varsity theater students, Samantha Mason, has choreographed two songs, and Jenn Ramirez-Mendoza, who’s in the play, is also helping choreograph some. Ms. Edwards is choreographing some of her dancers to be the wolves to do the dance fight with the wolves, and then one of the big numbers, ‘Be Our Guest.’ We all kind of just put it together.”

Sophomore Maka Perry has been doing musicals since the second grade and really enjoys them. He plays Gaston in “Beauty and The Beast.” 

“Gaston is just a very big fun character,” Perry said. “He’s very loud and out there, and that’s very fun to play.”

This is actually Perry’s second time doing this musical. He last performed it in 8th grade when he was Cogsworth, the clock.

“It’s very new, because they’re not in very many scenes together, but it’s nice to do it again,” Perry said. “It’s nice to get a new perspective, as well.”

Set pieces and props are done by tech theater, and they are also in charge of stage management while a show is going on. This year, for “Beauty and The Beast,” most of the costume design and creation was done outside of LASA.

“We did, for this one, bring in a professional costumer who’s helping us pull things and borrow things from other schools as well as make a couple of things,” Driscoll said. “We’re mostly renting for ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ but some of it we are making.”

For freshman Riley Wayt, “Beauty and The Beast” is his very first musical, and he says the atmosphere is really nice. Everyone is very supportive and compassionate.

“First off, if your voice cracks, everyone is really understanding and no one laughs,” Wayt said. “The same goes for missing a line. Other than that, it starts out a little awkward with learning lines and songs, but when you get those down and you start working on the miscellaneous stuff like tone, costumes, props, and what to do on stage, it’s terrifyingly fun.”

According to Driscoll, operating behind the scenes can be a very busy time for members of the play and teachers helping to direct. Some, like Perry, practice almost every day.

“I usually just practice when I have time,” Perry said. “I practice it quite a bit. I’d say about eight to ten hours a week [spent] going to practice rehearsal.”

In a normal year, the musical takes about two-and-a-half months of production before it can be shown. This year, the Alley Cat Players only had two months.

“We started a little bit later because of an issue with getting the rights approved,” Driscoll said. “Typically, we start in November, and we open at the end of January. For this one, we didn’t start till December, and we’re opening at the very start of February. So it’s usually about two and a half months. And we’ve got that time off at winter break. This one, we’re trying to do it in two months, and it’s a little tight.”

According to Driscoll, when directing a musical, there are usually many people working with different branches, but there is only one director for this musical. This can be a little stressful, making it one of the hardest things about being the director.

“I think the hardest part is doing the acting direction and the tech direction as one person, because a lot of other high schools have a tech director and have an acting director,” Driscoll said. “I’m always splitting time. I’m always trying to help the tech build and watch over their design and stuff, as well as trying to do all the acting direction. So I think for me, that’s probably the hardest part, juggling those two big worlds.”

After the practice, making the props, and directing, the musical is ready for an audience. This is many participants’ favorite part of the process, including Driscoll, who loves connecting the musical to the audience. 

“[I love] making exciting things for the audience to see, especially surprises,” Driscoll said. “Anytime you can make something, even if the audience is expecting it, you can make it really cool. [It’s just special] having moments where you can make the audience surprised and have fun, those moments where you can make them want to cry or feel really sympathetic to the characters.”