Beauty and the Beast

It’s been a long time since our entire school has been able to take on a project that every class is invested in and can get excited about on some level. This week, we saw the fruition of one outstanding example as our 8th grade class brought their musical, Beauty and the Beast, to stage for live performances for our PreK, Lower and Middle School, and their families.
Parker’s Beauty and the Beast production has been months, if not years, in the making. As Parker music director Sara Feltes explains, she has been brewing the idea to stage a culminating 8th grade performance for awhile: “Musical theater was a big part of my school career, and it is an experience that I’ve always wanted to share with my Parker students. My original intention was to start undertaking a spring 8th grade musical with the graduating class of 2020. Unfortunately, Covid had other plans. With school pushed remotely, followed by strict singing and social distancing guidelines the following year, it didn’t really seem feasible until now. This is our moment.”
What a moment it has been. For the past 10 weeks, students at nearly every grade level have been involved in at least some aspect of this production. From our enthusiastic youngest PreK and K students, some of whom even dressed as their favorite character to get their photo taken with the cast, to our 3-4 class, who helped to hang set pieces and arrange stage props. Our 1-2 class designed, drew, and decorated inspirational banners of support to hang in the gym, and our 5th & 6th graders hand-crafted original props and costumes for the supporting actors.
For the past several weeks, our 7th grade class has been intensely involved in supporting the 8th grade class as their stage crew, with students supervising costumes, props, lighting, sound, and make-up. Our 8th graders, meanwhile, have been immersed in every aspect of on-stage production. They have memorized lines, choreography, music and blocking, developed their characters, and even become skilled in applying their own stage make-up. Most importantly, however, they have learned how to support each other. They’ve gone from yelling at each other for missed lines to deftly stepping in and covering up mistakes, cheering each other on each step of the way. They have come together not only as a cast, but as a graduating class, celebrating this momentous achievement of risk-taking and teamwork in their final months together as a community.
As one 8th grader reflected backstage earlier this week, “I think the scariest part about all of this is everyone seeing me outside of my comfort zone. It’s one thing when you’re trying something new by yourself, but to do it when everyone else is watching brings it to a whole new level.” Her friend responded, adding, “Yeah, but at least we’re ALL doing it together. That’s been my favorite part of the whole production – working together as one big team and working out everything together felt really good.”