Song as Old as Rhyme

About a week before Beauty and the Beast opened, we watched the animated Disney version for family movie night. North was in a drama camp production of this play the summer they were eleven. They played the Beast and in the words of the father of a fellow cast member, North “brought the beast.” I mean, just watch the video clip in that post if you don’t believe me.

As I watched the movie for the first time since that summer, I was surprised by how many of the lines I remembered verbatim from the play down to how they were delivered by the campers. I also remember trying to explain to my not very interested youngest child how it was not a good idea to get into a romantic relationship with someone who treats you badly in hopes you can change that person. North is much more attuned to the problematic nature of the story now and as we watched, they kept yelling at Belle and reminding her the Beast had basically taken her hostage.

Tech Week: Monday to Wednesday

Tech week started on the Saturday we went to St. Mary’s so North missed the first day, but they’d been at rehearsals most afternoons and evenings the week before and on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the next week they were at school until 9:45 or ten every night. Often, I was already in bed when Beth brought them back home.

On Tuesday morning I asked North how the rehearsal the night before had gone and I head a litany of things that went wrong—an expensive curtain torn by a falling part of the set, one of North’s shoes gone missing, and a fight (a real one, not a stage fight). I asked who was fighting and why, and North replied, “Two freshman. I don’t know why,” with perfect senior scorn. (Luckily, they did find their missing shoe the next day.)

Opening Night: Thursday

Apparently, there were a lot of mishaps on opening night, too, including multiple people injured in separate incidents both backstage and onstage. One of the backstage accidents involved a glue gun. A girl twisted her ankle onstage during an acrobatic move and a boy’s cochlear implant fell out, but by watching the pit orchestra conductor he was able to come in at the just the right time in the song. (That’s a sign of a true performer in my book.)

North’s friend Maddie was in the audience that night and she said you couldn’t tell anything had gone wrong at all. North seemed pretty blithe about it all, so I guess there were no real disasters. And the show went on. A couple weeks earlier one of the cast members had mono and another thought she might have it, too, and I was wondering what would happen if mono swept through the cast, but it didn’t, so that was another bullet dodged.

Friday there was no show and no rehearsal, so North got to come home at three-twenty and spend the afternoon and evening relaxing. We ordered pizza and watched Joy Ride and they got to bed reasonably early and slept in a little.

Second Performance: Saturday

While Beth was taking North to school for their late afternoon call time and coming back home, Noah and I prepared and assembled spinach manicotti for dinner. Beth and I both took a disco nap while it baked because we are early-to-bed people and we knew we’d be up a little later than usual, plus we were losing an hour that night due the time change, and Beth was leaving the next morning to spend another week in Wheeling with her mom.

We ate an early dinner and drove back to North’s school. There was a big rose-shaped balloon in the lobby and bouquets of roses for sale. Beth bought one to give to North after the show, taking care to select one with a lavender rose because that’s North’s favorite color.

The show was really well done. It was the most ambitious play the theater department has ever put on, with a cast of over sixty, plus more than forty musicians in the pit orchestra. The leads have truly amazing voices, especially the girl playing Belle. Lumiere was just perfect, very funny, and he stole a lot of scenes. The set wasn’t elaborate but featured intricately painted backdrops (rented it turned out). The costumes were lovely, though I kept wondering if the kids playing enchanted objects were overheating under the lights because a lot of them were all covered up, especially Cogsworth in what looked like very thick material. When I said after the show that his costume looked hot, both kids laughed, and I had to clarify I was not lusting after teenage boys. “Teenage boy clocks,” North scoffed.

North was in three numbers. They played a washerwoman in the opening crowd scene and sang several lines as a solo or duet in “Belle,” one describing the bookish protagonist as “never part of a crowd.” They were also in “The Mob Scene” and the finale.

As I watched, I felt a lot of emotions. The joy of watching something well done, pride that North was part of a successful production, but also sadness that it was their last play of high school. And if I’m being honest, more sadness that North didn’t get a bigger part in their last play because I know they would have liked one. And back to pride again because they didn’t quit in the face of that disappointment.

I’m glad Beth got to see the play before she left. This time she knew further ahead of time that she was leaving, so we were able to get tickets for one of the earlier shows.

Meanwhile, there was a matinee today. Because it was the only matinee, there were a lot of kids in the audience and North said a lot of them were in Belle’s yellow dress. There will be two more evening performances next weekend. In between we’ll be going to see Maddie in Grease at her school on Wednesday night and North’s got a morning performance at school on Thursday for visiting elementary and middle school students. As a result, I’ll be taking them somewhere and/or picking them up in a Lyft every day for four days in a row.

I don’t really mind, though. Other than reviewing three more shows, this is the end of their high school theater career and that’s a big deal. North has loved performing ever since they were three and taking preschool drama classes. In high school they spent more time on costume crew or as a theater reviewer for Cappies than acting, but whatever the nature of their involvement, it’s been a passion of theirs for a long time. And I hope they continue to find a way to continue to pursue it in college, wherever they go. For them, it’s their tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme.