By Samantha Dolecki '19
Delone Catholic’s spring musical of the 2018-19 school year, Beauty and the Beast, made sold- out audiences believe in classic Disney magic once again. However, no magic spell was cast to give the production its historic success. The musical was possible with not only an amazing group of student actors and musicians, but with the immense help of some real heroes who made us feel like more than just a guest.
It’s not Broadway, but it’s starting to look like a close second. High school musicals existed in a simpler time a generation or two ago. Sets and costumes were handmade and the audience was asked to stretch their imagination and suspend their disbelief to enjoy the show.
Today teenagers get to experience a full out performance with wireless mics, fog machines, and rotating stages. As each year passes, high school performances are getting bigger and better, and there is no sign of this show business slowing down.
So how do they make it happen? The average high school musical costs around $10,000. Yet schools with theatre enthusiasts are producing shows that cost anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 in expenses.
A $10,000 price tag is still hard to come by, especially when the average budget for the drama department of a public high school is only around a few thousand dollars. Usually departments will make up the rest through ticket sales and fundraising. Unfortunately some public school drama departments are given no budget and solely have to rely on themselves for productions.
Delone Catholic is no exception to these monetary struggles. The drama department is heavily reliant on volunteer help to make sets, decorate the halls, and work concessions. However, there is only so much support parents and students can provide. The difference for Delone Catholic, however, is the belle of the ball herself, Brittany Stevens, a 2009 graduate.
Brittany Stevens has been involved in dance since she was three years old and directed her first show at just 16 years old. Shortly after at 19 years old, Stevens opened her own studio which has been, as she puts it, “a whirlwind and amazing journey.”
Alongside Music Director, Brian Yealy, Stevens directed and choreographed the Disney classic turned musical at Delone Catholic beginning immediately in the new year.
“There was quite a bit of time put in to help create the production,” Stevens explains. “I never look at the time as a 'negative,' I have always felt every minute is worth it when the cast takes their final bow. I wouldn't trade a moment!”
Although, she did more than just put in time. “As far as equipment; all the lights, sound equipment, projections, all the set pieces and all the costumes were from my company. We were happy to pass along what we had to Delone Catholic to use.”
Stevens states that from projection and lights to sound, there's always new and improved equipment being released. Her generosity has allowed Delone Catholic to have a taste of modernized theatre, even if it’s just on a high-school level.
The use of Steven’s equipment not only allowed confetti to cascade the stage during “Be our Guest” and the fog machine to make the Beast’s transformation as magical as the sparkles projected on the walls, but it also provided an educational experience for the students in charge of making the magic happen.
The musical’s stage manager, Alyssa Rae Fostik, stated that her tech experience over the years at Delone Catholic have provided her with many opportunities.
“Through different shows there were different responsibilities that not only required the person to adapt, but also grow in their leaderships capabilities,” explained Fostik.
With the guidance of Stevens and her company, these leadership qualities were further developed. Having access to the equipment made it “easier to put creative thoughts to the production and experiment to find the best way to represent scenes.”
Overall, what makes a musical a success is not just great lighting or flying set pieces.
“It takes everyone's help to make a production a success - from the musicians, to the actors, to the music director, the technical directors, and the volunteers,” noted Stevens.