Students taking stage for ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, February 16, 2022

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Students in Covington County Schools will soon come together as one to host a collaborative production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical.

The performance will take place at the LBWCC Dixon Center for Performing Arts on Friday, Feb. 18 and Saturday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m.

“It has been a very methodical process for all the students. They have a crew under the guidance of Tina Shiver at Straughn High School and have been building and painting the set. It’s really cool how the set unfolds and all comes together. Sarah Kate Shiver from SHS and Jennifer Withrow from Pleasant Home School are the co-directors. I believe they started working with the students before Christmas and have practiced every weekend on Saturdays. Those practices almost take up as much time as a sport does,” Ballet Director Michelle Sharon said.

“All of our sets are student-built, hair and makeup are done by students, and the production is performed entirely by students. They have put in countless hours designing, building, choreographing, studying, and rehearsing,” Set Director Tina Shiver said.

Sharon added that as the performance draws closer, most students have learned their lines. “It’s been amazing to watch these kids who are shy about being on stage with no prior experience come out and perform. Some of the older kids familiar with being on stage have not really been in a musical like this. They’re all having to learn the process.”

Beauty and the Beast will be Sarah Kate Shiver’s first musical. “It was on the list of performances they could choose from and just happens to be her favorite production. Mrs. Withrow thought it would be fun to let her have that for her debut. Our students range from the seventh grade through the twelfth grade. Now that they are getting their costumes, it’s exciting and cool to see them transform into the characters they will be portraying,” Sharon said.

The students are embracing the opportunity to perform and taking the busy schedule in stride.

“They have really amazing attitudes about everything. If you give them notes and/or feedback, they listen and follow through. I haven’t seen one kid get upset. They have good attitudes and work well together. The camaraderie has been phenomenal. Just to give you an example: we’re from Chicago and moved here. My daughter, Sophia Tucci, was given the lead of Belle and did not know anybody. While getting the lead is great, she is not really familiar with people here, and it has been great to see her make friends.”

As the ballet director, Sharon has enjoyed working with the students who will be performing as ballerinas. “They basically came up with their own dance and have been choreographing themselves. The dancers did a beautiful job and have worked so hard.”

Withrow also showed her appreciation for those individuals who have helped behind the scenes. “I would like to thank Jerry Wishum for helping us by doing all the lighting and Tina Shiver for her help with the set designs and everything else she has done.”

Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the door or at the Straughn High School office, Salon Utopia, Southern Independent Bank, CCB Community Bank, and the LAAC (Lower Alabama Arts Coalition).

“Come out and see what these awesome young people are doing with their ‘free time.’ We look forward to showcasing all of our students in the Covington County Schools system,” Tina Shiver said.