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Beauty and The Beast

Posted on: January 12th 2015

The Rehearsal Diary

Friday 19th September, 2014

"Once Upon a Time in a faraway land..." announced Harry ‘Narrator' Jackson (Year 12) as the initial read of the ‘Beauty and the Beast' libretto got underway. A freshly cast group of students for the Sale Grammar musical 2015 arrived to the inaugural rehearsal with great anticipation. The new faces, the new libretto, the new songs - I could hardly contain myself, let alone the students!

BATB is an example of Disney at its finest - witty dialogue, enchanting melodies, extravagant costumes, a surprise around every corner - and it hasn't taken long for this year's cast to live up to expectations! In normal circumstances the Director would always look to his most senior students to lead by example, so it was with equal measures of surprise and delight when two of the show's youngest students stood out from the throng.

Miles ‘LeFou' Golding (Year 9) had his peers ‘rolling in the aisles' with his take on Gaston's bumbling side kick, whilst Daisy ‘Lumiere' Miles (Year 9) had 6th Form students mouthing at one another in astonishment, such was the ease with which she slipped into the role of this French accented comical character - "Enchantee mademoiselle!"

With six months to go before we can all "live happily ever after" I am excited to see what new heights this year's talented cast can reach - there's definitely ‘Something There'!

By Mr Townsend


Monday 22nd September, 2014

The beautiful singing from the ‘beauty' herself, Amy ‘Belle' Clarke (Year 12) began the beginning of scene one. Those taking on the role of the singing villagers put their French thinking caps on, waving ‘bonjour' at the audience. Silly girls giggled their way to the stage as a rather confused shepherd chased after his scared sheep.
The lower year performers had the bright presence of a typical Disney market scene where huge smiles filled the stage and Amy considered how she interacted with the villagers whilst singing. This included Charlie ‘Baker' Culver (Year 9) listening and concentrating when alterations were being made on stage in order to communicate with Belle. Despite having one Silly Girl missing, Kiera ‘Silly Girl' Pearson (Year 12) and I made sure we were as silly as possible interacting with all the villagers. One girl poked villagers while the other laughed, a successful partnership of general silliness!
Overall, scene one was a very promising start. I believe this production to be a ‘must see' and welcome anyone to ‘be our guest' take a seat and enjoy the show this February 2015.

By Emma ‘Silly Girl' Shippen (Year 13)


Friday 26th September, 2014

And so continues work on the mammoth task that is scene one! Today saw James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13) give a particularly feminine take on the typically exceedingly macho character who, in this scene, is attempting to win the heart of Belle. Amy ‘Belle' Clarke (Year 12) reacted well to his initial ‘primeval' advances, but when James struck a pose to show off his guns he had us all in fits of giggles with his pout and pointed foot looking very like Beyoncé in her Single Ladies video!

Poor Miles ‘Lefou' Golding (Year 9) was really put through the ringer though, being hit with books and across the back of the head by James as well as being told to "go into the woods" it's a wonder how he managed to be so good! Stephen ‘Maurice' Till (Year 9) also made a fabulous entrance wearing Mr Townsend's scarf and a pair of very thick and comical glasses; so thick in fact he was unable to read his script through them. His famous ‘invention' was also revealed to us in its early stages of development and I'm sure that will be an impressive moment in the show.

We also got a first glimpse of our other, more enchanting, double act in action. Robin ‘Cogsworth' Legg (Year 12) portrays his character's tightly wound disposition with skill and Daisy ‘Lumiere' Miles (Year 9) really is a special find, her accent and timing are a real treat. We're all very excited to see how the impressive costumes will play into these characters' performances but we got a sneak peak at one of the most beautiful costumes today. Cerys Jones (Year 12) in her role as the Enchantress modelled her transforming costume and truly enchanted us all with it!

It's safe to say the show is looking very promising and everyone is so excited to really get into the swing of rehearsals and all the wonderful paraphernalia that accompanies each Sale Grammar School production!

By Ceri ‘Madame de la Grande Bouche' Moss (Year 12)


Monday 29th September, 2014

Amy 'Belle' Clarke (Year 12) was rushed off her feet today as she was pulled between Scenes 1 and 5. To help the 'Singing Villagers' in Scene 1, the wonderful Abi Kempson (Year 13) continued with the choreography for the song 'Belle' and clean up what Miss Langford had left for her.

Scene 1 has really come along. Everyone is really excited for the production and we are all counting down the days until the performances. The cast photos also took place today and were taken by Aleesha Kahn (Year 12). Soon they will be on the website and in the corridor to help conjure up the hype for BATB. The cast has been expertly chosen and we are all working hard to perfect our performances.

Mr Townsend was pleased with how Scene 1 has come along and the rest of the 'Singing Villagers' and 'Silly Girls' should be too. Scene 1 has nearly been wrapped up and I'm sure Miss Langford will be happy with the effort and enthusiasm that Abi put into the choreography.

By Sam 'Bookseller' Hey


Friday 3rd October, 2014

With Scene 1 finally perfected to Sale Grammar's high standards, we moved onto the next essential scene. Amy ‘Belle' Clarke (Year 12) executed an emotional performance alongside Connaire ‘Beast' Stubbs where we saw the evil side of the Beast.

Whilst Miss Evans and Miss Irvine debated who the bravest Disney Princess was (the outcome was between Belle, Jasmine and Pocahontas), we perfected Scene 5 and made an eager start on Scene 6. Ceri ‘Madame de la Grande Bouche' Moss before beginning her introductory scene, was presented with a large wardrobe costume to the delight of the remaining cast members!

The whole cast have significantly started getting into character which is shown through an uncountable number of cast members. It's really good to start to see scenes and characters coming together, especially if you're lucky enough to catch a singing rehearsal.

By Daisy ‘Lumiere' Miles (Year 9)


Monday 6th October, 2014

A rehearsal of two halves. We're starting to see the split between the villagers and Gaston, and the enchanted objects and the main characters. In the drama room James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13) and Abi ‘Choreographer' Kempson (Year 13) took directorial duties when instructing the villager ensemble in "Belle". Mr Townsend came in to go over the music in the scene, which caused some confusion as it was extremely difficult to keep up with the speed of the song!

In the hall we had myself, Holly ‘Mrs Potts' Jackson (Year 13), Daisy ‘Lumiere' Miles (Year 9), Robin ‘Cogsworth' Legg (Year 12) and Amy ‘Belle' Clark (Year 12), and had to endure a scene of high pitched squeaking from Cogsworth as he discovers a winding handle on his back; and low growling from the Beast as he found out that Belle is actually not coming down to dinner. After being taught by Mrs Potts and Lumiere on how to woo Belle, I had to shout the word "what?" over and over again, as Potts and Lumiere couldn't figure out how to react correctly. This led to my voice being ripped to shreds. The worst is yet to come, I feel.

One particular moment of interest came when Mrs Potts couldn't get through the line "We're all in this together" without the cast breaking into a High School Musical number!
I feel the show is starting to come along as it always does. It's a ‘tale as old as time'.

By Connaire ‘Beast' Stubbs (Year 13)

Monday 20th October, 2014

Today saw the first full run through of Act 1, with the whole cast together again to watch everyone in action. We began by running through ‘Belle' which originally proved difficult without Belle herself but the singing villagers managed it and the routine looks great, but remember, "stay out of a line!"

The drama in Scene 1 begins with James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13) trying to work his magic on Belle, today played by understudy Ceri ‘Wardrobe' Moss (Year 13) with help from, unhelpful wingman Miles ‘Lefou' Golding (Year 9). James gave a "positively primeval" performance (we think that's a good thing).

We then moved through Act 1 swiftly only stopping to make the odd improvement. Harry ‘Narrator/D'arque' Jackson (Year 12) tried his hand, or paw, in filling for Connaire ‘Beast' Stubbs (Year 13) in the scene where myself and Daisy ‘Lumiere' Miles (Year 9) help Beast try and woo Belle, he took to this task with ease. He even managed to frighten yours truly!

As this rehearsal gave everyone a look at how far we have come, it was clear that the show is going to be a hit! And at the end of the rehearsal, one question was still on everyone's lips, "IS IT A BIG BEAST?!"

By Holly ‘Mrs Potts' Jackson (Year 13)


Monday 13th October, 2014

Hi! I'm Miles Golding, playing the part of Lefou, a suck-up sidekick to Gaston, the productions main antagonist. We had a very successful rehearsal which was, as always, a hilarious experience.

We looked at the opening number ‘Belle' (no points for guessing what it's about!) and began blocking the choreography for my personal favourite song: ‘Maison des Lunes'! The number is fun and enjoyable but unfortunately, as the undignified sidekick of Gaston, I am used and as undignified prop of demonstration by Gaston.

He uses me to demonstrate the key elements of his dastardly plan, including making me act like a woman, dropping me on the floor and beating me senselessly.

By Miles ‘LeFou' Golding (Year 9)

Friday 24th October, 2014

With the Halloween October holidays looming, cast and crew teamed together on the last day of rehearsals to finish all of Act 1 before home time. At first, there was a suitably eerie feel on stage as Connaire ‘Beast' Stubbs (Year 13) stormed around, sparking terror into the audience and even frightened a squeal from non-other than Mr Townsend, which is not difficult to believe, considering Connaire's conviction in the role.

The next scene however, brought a lighter mood to rehearsal, as the ever hilarious Daisy ‘Lumiere' Miles (Year 9) attempted to learn how to whistle in her sleep, Ceri ‘Madame de la Grande Bouche' Moss (Year 12) her willing teacher. It was great to see Key Stage 3 and 5 students working together, and it's clear to see how we all appreciate the things we can learn from the other cast members, however strange!

Cerys ‘Babette' Jones (Year 12)


Friday 7th November, 2014

Drum roll for the first appearance of the Beauty and the Beast Band! In fact, this rehearsal began with a literal drum roll, played very dramatically by Imogen Shortall (percussion, Year 11) at the start of the Overture. Every musical needs a slightly different orchestra; for "Beauty and the Beast" there is an unusual line-up including multiple keyboards, and it's the first time since I've been at SGS that we've had a French horn (Flora Bailey, Year 9) in the band.

After the Overture comes the Prologue, underscoring the story of how the prince became a beast. This is full of atmospheric strings and rippling piano, plus some suitably menacing and "beastly" sounds from Alex Hamer (trombone, Year 10). Then, without a break, we're into the first song, "Belle", an ensemble number showing the life of Belle's home town. "Does it really go that fast?" asked a panicked Joe Issa (Keyboards, Year 12). But despite the fact that some players had only seen the music minutes before the rehearsal, the standard of playing is already very impressive.

That was followed by "No Matter What", a duet for Belle and her father Maurice. It's an introduction to their characters but also an introduction to the life of a pit musician: "four in a bar...speed up...slow down...pause...slower...pause...speed up again...two in a bar!" After playing it through a few times, it begins to make sense!

If anyone deserves a special mention, it has to be our woodwind section: Mollie Windle (flute, Year 10), Andrew Thomas (oboe, Year 9) and Felicity Barron (clarinet, Year 12) for their delicately expressive rendition of the main "Beauty and the Beast" theme in the Overture. Following a well-established production band tradition, after the rehearsal we had cake, this time courtesy of Izzy Archer (cello, Year 12). I am looking forward to the next few months of working with this highly talented group of musicians.

Mr James, Musical Director


Monday 10th November, 2014

Today's rehearsals kicked off at lunch for the ‘Transformation/Finale'. All members of the chorus worked hard to achieve that angelic yet ‘majestic' sound, with everyone having to blend together and sopranos having to take in massive breaths to support those high notes.

Afterschool saw yet another singing rehearsal, this time for Lumiere's famous ‘Be Our Guest', one of the most demanding and crazy songs of the whole production. Daisy ‘Lumiere' Miles (Year 9) gave a brilliant rendition of the song, French accent and all, while the chorus concentrated on staying in time and finishing ends of words cleanly. Though they sounded good on their own, once the parts were brought together the overall sound was pretty impressive.

Today also saw the introduction of our new cast members, Ava ‘Chip' O'Driscoll (Year 7) and Nathan ‘Chip' Spellman (Year 7) who are perfect for their roles and were warmly welcomed by everyone.

After working hard today and seeing even more of the production come together, I'm definitely looking forward to opening night in February.

By Arfaa ‘Villager' Butt (Year 9)


Friday 14th November, 2014

CLINK! CLANK! CLUNK! No one misuses tankards like Gaston!

Today we worked on ‘Scene Six: The Tavern', the focus of which was on a terribly upset Gaston after Belle had somehow refused to succumb to his irresistible advances and so, LeFou, being the admirable friend that he is, attempts to cheer up his buddy through the song ‘Gaston' in which he, along with Gaston's Cronies and Silly Girls, stroke Gaston's perfectly sized ego.

The focus of the rehearsal was on the tankard choreography for the song which was devised by Miss Langford and Miss Carter on Monday with help from myself and Miles ‘LeFou' Golding (Year 9), who only managed to smash my knuckles with the tankard once today, which was nice of him! The choreography came naturally to the Cronies who are a very talented bunch; it appears what they lack in brawn they make up for in rhythm!

A particularly funny moment came when Miss Irvine was caught singing the lyrics to ‘Gaston' in which she sang "No one shoots like Gaston", but unfortunately due to her strong Irish accent, the rest of us thought she had exchanged some words for ones that are not necessarily commonplace within Disney musicals!

All in all, the whole rehearsal process is going brilliantly as a result of everyone having bonded well and this is translating into brilliant performances. On top of this everyone is making me feel very good about myself, showering with me lyrics like, "Everyone's awed and inspired by you" and "You're everyone's favourite guy". Being the modest man that I am, I could only blush and thank them for their kind words!

What a great cast we have this year! Bring on February!

By James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13)


Friday 21st November, 2014

This week the production band tackled some of the meatier numbers from ‘Beauty and the Beast': ‘Home [7]', ‘Home Tag [7a]' and ‘Gaston [8]'. The highlight of the rehearsal was without a doubt our very own Mr James' sensational rendition of the aforementioned ‘Home', during which the new members of the band had the privilege of hearing the sheer power of his soprano for the first time. I would like to personally warn Amy ‘Belle' Clarke to watch her back; if she puts one toe out of line then we've got a perfect replacement Belle that's already rehearsed with the band.

Unfortunately Mr James' moment in the spotlight was cut short by the mention of cake. It has become tradition amongst show musicians that every Friday is a cake Friday. It is every member's favourite part of the rehearsal and disgrace comes to those who FORGET the cake when it's their turn. Yes, I'm looking at you Leo Neville (Year 11, trumpet), we all are. Hungrily. This week's cake was a sumptuous dark chocolate chunk shortbread baked by Nina Patel (Year 11, violin). It's going to be a tough act to follow.

Anyway, due to the length and complexity of the pieces covered on Friday, we're slightly behind on schedule. So get practising kids, by my reckoning we've got to cover ten numbers next week to catch up. I shall diligently return to my practice in case I have to pretend to be leader again next week (please come back Jenny, for the band's sake) and leave you with my quote of the week, Mr James' initial response to our first play through of ‘Gaston'. I feel it sums up the standard of our current music making nicely - "Nearly!"

Nicola Hamer (violin, Year 12)


Monday 25th November, 2014

Last night the bustling noise of the drama room gradually dispersed as cast were taken away for individual sessions or in pairs. Ceris ‘Babette' Jones (Year 12) went off to do some dance and James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13) led the way for a rendition of ‘Gaston'.

Connaire ‘Beast' Stubbs (Year 13) and Ceri 'Madame de le Grande Bouche' Moss (Year 12) departed the company in order to rehearse with Mrs Newns.

Myself and Amy ‘Belle' Clarke (Year 12) went with Mr Townsend in order to rehearse ‘No Matter What' which Amy knew like the back of her hand, me less so! After deep confusion as to where to rehearse due to an over run recording session we successfully navigated the D sharps and F flats that litter the score, the rehearsal became a productive and progressive session

Amy was exceptional in her vocal skills and Mr Townsend quickly came to terms with the limitations of the music keyboard.

The show must go on. ‘NO MATTER WHAT!'

Steven ‘Maurice' Till (Year 9)


Monday 17th November, 2014

Today's rehearsal consisted of the ‘Human Again' enchanted objects being taught how to waltz! With a fine example from Holly ‘Mrs Potts' Jackson (Year 13) and James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13), everyone began practicing with their new dance partners. It was far from perfect to begin with, with Connaire ‘Beast' Stubbs (Year 13) deciding his robot dance was more suiting than a waltz! As the rehearsal continued and everyone got their dancing shoes on, our waltzing was looking much better.

As the cast's dancing became even more magical, it was finally looking good! The enchanted objects stepped up onto the stage to show off their beautiful new moves, we could see the ‘Transformation' that had occurred. With a little bit more practice we'll all be professionals by the opening night...

By Lily ‘Silly Girl' Brittain (Year 12)


Monday 1st December 2014

There's definitely ‘Something There' that wasn't there before after a packed day of three rehearsals simultaneously! Robin ‘Cogsworth' Legg (Year 12) certainly ‘proved his Cogs-worth' today alongside his fellow enchanted objects, as they taught Connaire ‘Beast' Stubbs (Year 13) how to woo a lady... his skills may need some polishing up before February.

Meanwhile, over in the tavern, (or Room 34 as it's more commonly known) James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13) drowned his sorrows with lackey Lefou, their cohort of cronies and the silliest of girls. This week they put away the tankards and their dancing shoes to polish up the musical aspect of one of the most entertaining numbers in the show.

The final rehearsal saw Harry ‘Narrator/D'Arque' Jackson (Year 12) brushing up on his singing; it's good to know we've got an excellently prepared understudy for Gaston or Beast should either of them need it. Let's just hope it doesn't come to that!

As we see all different aspects of the show coming together, it's clear we have an incredibly talented cast, and when February rolls around this show will be yet another successful SGS musical!

By Naomi ‘Silly Girl' Dagnall (Year 12)


Friday 28th November, 2014

Friday night's rehearsal was a blast. We went through the vocals for the song ‘Belle'. The first scene is almost complete now thanks to the help given by the teachers. With everyone working as hard as they did and with some great solo performances by Amy ‘Belle' Clarke (Year 12) and James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13) the number was finished with time to spare. The end sound was very impressive.

After finishing ‘Belle', a few of us stayed behind to watch James ‘Gaston' Coutsavlis (Year 13) and Miles ‘LeFou' Golding (Year 9) go through the choreography for Gaston. With some of the biggest numbers coming close to being finished I think that the progression has been really great. I look forward to completing more of the show and doing an awesome performance to go with it.

By Charlie ‘Baker' Culver (Year 10)


Monday 5th January, 2015

I was considerably freaked out by the idea of dance. I mean, sure, we'd done it before but still. I hate dancing, purely because I can't dance. Like, at all. As it was the first rehearsal back after the Christmas holidays - which were very good for me, thanks for asking - and now we had to work for an extra half hour of rehearsal, it had slightly startled me how quickly we were thrown into it. I felt stupid while we were dancing, well, I wouldn't exactly call it dancing. It was more like we were...flailing. I felt stupid but confident. It was simple and pretty much everyone was getting it right and having an alright time while doing so. In 'Singing in the Rain' last year, we were doing similar sorts of things so, like I said, I was confident; confident that it would look at least half-decent.

The song we were 'dancing' to was 'Human Again' where the enchanted objects wished that they were once again human rather than the animate inanimate objects that they are. Backstage, we - Laura 'Sausage Curl Girl' Walsh (which, might I add, does not mean she sells sausages. It means that she has her hair in a sausage curl...just sayin') (Year 10), Eve 'Milkmaid' McPeak (Year 10), Arfaa 'Female Villager' Butt (Yearr 9), Samridhi 'Female Villager' Saran (Year 9) and Tom 'Fish Man' Snow/Beswick (Year 9) (though, Tom wasn't really part of the discussion, he was prancing about to the music before we were to go on stage, it's one of his passions) - were discussing what would happen if we were to put on 'Mamma Mia'. Clearly, I was born for the part of Rosie and I was demonstrating this to the others by singing my rendition of ABBA's 'Take A Chance On Me'. This then became a discussion of 'Les Miserables'. Laura proclaimed herself to be Eponine and naturally, I thought myself to be Javert.

A lot of laughing occurs during rehearsals. That doesn't mean we don't work hard, it just means we're having fun whilst working...usually. During this rehearsal we had to waltz and it did not turn out how it was necessarily supposed to...let's leave it at that.

We only have less than a month to go now and 'tensions', I guess, were high. It's a lot of stress to put on a show that requires so much effort and focus and a lot of us are under a considerable amount of stress already. We're all completely willing to be apart of this but, as I said, it can sometimes be so hard, I'm surprised Monsieur Townsend can be bothered showing up every rehearsal! Generally, the 'impossible' tasks are worked around and I'm always both surprised and impressed by how well things work out in the end.

To be honest, though I'd never tell anyone in person, I'm actually excited for this musical. I've had a lot of fun and I feel like I've been involved despite not having the biggest part of all- not that I was expecting a huge part, I haven't the brain capacity for so many words and directions to remember. I'm, what you might call, proud of all the students involved because yes, it was Townie's ideas, innovation and inspirational speeches that brought us all together, but it is the cast who bother to turn up that really make the musical and make it seem special for me, and probably the rest of us.

By Jess ‘Lady with Cane' Cooper (Year 10)


Monday 12th January, 2015

Today's after school session kicked off with rehearsing the scene where the audience is first introduced to the inhabitants of the castle. Daisy ‘Lumiere' Miles (Year 9) charmed her way through her lines whilst Robin ‘Cogsworth' Legg (Year 12) certainly got his message across that "No tea" was to be served by the sweet and kind-hearted Holly ‘Mrs Potts' Jackson (Year 13).

I got to say my first lines of the show as young ‘Chip' whilst being pushed around on a chair (both great fun) and Cerys ‘Babette' Jones (Year 12) very adeptly demonstrated her skills in the art of flirting with a rather coy Stephen ‘Maurice' Till (Year 9).

The ‘Enchanted Objects' spent their time rehearsing the choreography to ‘Be Our Guest' with the very professional Abigail ‘Choreographer' Kempson (Year 13), before performing it in front of the rest of the cast and earning our applause.

It was evidenced by Cerys and Daisy's slick performance that they have clearly been practising their tango.

The rest of the session was spent rehearsing the battle scene where the villagers, who are now an angry mob, turn up at the castle with the intention of killing ‘The Beast'. This is an action packed scene where the villagers witness the ‘Objects' in the castle coming to life.

The scene and the rehearsal literally ended on a high note, with Ceri ‘Madame de la Grande Bouche' Moss (Year 12) impressing us all with her vocal range.

This is definitely going to be a performance worth watching!

By Ava ‘Chip' O'Driscoll (Year 7)

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