June 13—NEW ALBANY—New Albany High School is bringing back its production of “Beauty and the Beast” for the upcoming International Thespian Festival.
New Albany Theater Arts students rehearse for their June 23 performance at the Thespian Festival, which runs June 20-24 in Bloomington. The school is one of only six high school theater programs across the country to perform on the main stage.
Before the festival, there will also be two performances of “Beauty and the Beast” in the school auditorium. Tickets are on sale now for the local shows, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 16 and Friday, June 17.
Amy Miller, theater director at New Albany High School, said work began in August 2021 after the school was selected by Disney Theatricals and Music Theater International to pilot a new version of “Beauty and the Beast.”
“We took this new script, and there were new edits and cuts and stuff with it — it’s really piloting a new version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’,” he said. she stated.
The school presented the show in November, and the production was judged and selected for the International Thespian Festival show. The students continued to work on the show throughout the school year.
“We didn’t just let him go,” Miller said. “They took over the show with bits and pieces of rehearsals all this semester into this summer so we could really pack it up and go. These kids put in an awful lot of work and hours to keep the choreography clean, lines learned and that the show is ready to start again here and in Bloomington.”
Local performances will allow students to “clean up the show” before the big festival performance, and it’s also a fundraiser for the department, according to Miller.
“Our performances not only allow us to practice our show, but it’s a great fundraising opportunity for our friends and family to come out and see the kids and continue to help us put the show on the road” , she said.
In addition to staging their show, New Albany High School students will be able to attend performances from other schools and attend a variety of workshops.
The school’s theater program has been presented several times at the International Thespian Festival, which was previously held in Lincoln, Nebraska, before moving to Bloomington.
New Albany Theater Arts was also selected to present its 2020 production of “My Fair Lady” at the Thespian International Festival, but that was canceled due to the pandemic. This will be the first in-person festival since 2019.
Piper Prince is graduating from New Albany High School this year and preparing to play Mrs. Potts in ‘Beauty and the Beast’. She is excited to attend this year’s festival, especially after the event was canceled in its second year.
“Every night there’s a different performance on the main stage that’s put on by different high schools across the country, so we were like, we want to be one of those high schools that everyone comes and watches,” she said.
Prince said she loves seeing the reactions of little kids who attend the show.
“They get to see their favorite characters in real life, and that’s one of the most rewarding parts — coming out after the show and seeing their faces light up, because they can see Belle and Mrs. Potts and all. The magic that bring us as a cast and as a family really appeals to the audience even more than I think the movie does.”
Approximately 25 New Albany theater arts students will also perform in the Thespian International Festival’s opening night show. They will perform the “Friend Like Me” number with Michael James Scott, who is best known for playing the Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin” on Broadway.
“It’s even more opportunities for them to connect even further outside of the four walls of New Albany High School,” Miller said. “It’s going to be really fun.”
More than 3,000 children across the country are registered for the festival, Miller said.
“So 3,000 of their peers from across the country will be able to see this show and they will be able to meet these people who are taking classes and workshops with educators and professionals who work on Broadway and in regional houses across the country,” she says. “It’s a really unique and special opportunity to not only put on the show, but it’s going to be an amazing learning week for them.”