EPISD Summer Musical stages Disney's Beauty and the Beast this weekend
(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- July 19, 2021) — EPISD Fine Arts wants you to ‘be their guest’ at the Bowie High School Auditorium this week as students and recent alumni stage the Summer Musical production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
The Disney production — filled with familiar songs, elaborate sets and fantastic costumes — will show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is free.
“The musical for decades has brought together high-school students from all across the district,” Barraza said. “They collaborate and work with each other’s talents. After the pandemic the production has been an opportunity for the community to come back to celebrate and appreciate the arts.”
A week before opening night, Bowie’s stage was awash with an organized chaos synonymous with a dress rehearsal, a stop and go process. Performers received notes from the director, behind-stage props were built and costumes altered. Every aspect of the show went over strict review.
Actors, musicians, techies all worked in sync to bring the world of Beauty and the Beast to life. The stress is high with only a few days from opening night, but that stress appearsed to vanish backstage when the comradery and genuine love of putting on a production come together.
“Each year is different,” said assistant director Cristy Moss, who’s been involved in the summer musical for a decade. “I get to see the kids build confidence and learn so much about themselves. That is what makes the summer musical a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I love knowing that theater allows for any kind of kid to show up and be able to participate in some way.”
That certainly has been true for Coronado High School junior Maddy Spataro, one of two students playing the all-important Belle character. She will share the role with Chapin High School sophomore Kaelynn Guerrero.
“I connect with Belle,” Spataro said. “I find myself getting lost in the world of books just like her and being able to bring that love to life on stage is an honor. Putting on a show that others will enjoy is something I will always be grateful for.”
The opportunities to learn are ceaseless on set. Kelechi Alonzie, a Young Women’s STEAM Academy sophomore, finds the opportunities to learn on set are unlimited.
“I like theatre but don’t have the confidence to be on stage,” Alozie said. “My role has been backstage helping with hair, makeup and costumes. I have learned that a lot of things happen quickly in theatre. I once had to hem a costume while it was on a person and turn around other costume modifications quickly.”
A vital piece to this year's summer musical was the complex music attached to Beauty and the Beast, something musical director Daniel Contreras wasn’t sure would happen.
“The kids are being exposed to the highest level of musicianship,” Contreras said. “It is beyond their years and let me tell you, they are pulling it off. They are putting in 20 hours a week. It's not a matter of talent but commitment these students have shown. To me, they are the stars of the show.”
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented 2020 graduates from participating in the 2020 Summer Musical, so students were allowed to return for this year's production.
Among them is recent Burges High School graduate Milos Ikeinan Felix, who had to reacquaint himself with acting to take on the leading role of Beast.
“Songs are what can’t be expressed with normal words,” Felix said. “So, I had to convey all kinds of emotion through the songs. I prepared by watching movies because there is always something to learn from others. While on stage to be able to create and connect is always a pleasure. I love what I do and hope that my performance is able to reignite something in someone.”
Photos by Leonel Monroy