Word of Mind, Word of Mouth

Behind-the-scenes efforts set the stage for ‘Beauty & The Beast’

Special to The CambrianApril 1, 2013 

Both my sons are Coast Union High School alumni and both, I am happy to say, had some doings with the fabulous musicals the school puts on every year. Just like my sons, these productions have matured and grown tremendously.

While my boys were behind the scenes or, in Miles’ case, actually IN the scenes, I got to help paint sets and move stuff around, to be remotely involved in the hustle and bustle. Heck, I wasn’t even really part of the production, but it sure was exciting to be around it.

This weekend past, I snuck in to look around the high school gym/ theater — plus my older boy was home on a surprise visit and wanted to say “hi” to his former director. Oh, my, goodness! You’d better get your tickets now!

As usual, Lani and Joe Zaragoza, Tigg Morales and Greg Sesser were skillfully commanding other volunteers to saw, hammer, paint, wire, move, drape, sew and in other ways transform plywood, 2-by-4s and an old gymnasium into the land of make believe. The title of this year’s production — “Beauty and the Beast” — befits the job it takes to pull off this kind of performance at the level of professionalism to which have become accustomed.

The sound levels, monitors and wireless microphones were all being set and tested the first night I went in to help mother-of-the-Beast, Stephanie Arehart, on a piece of set material. I’m just telling you, the number of fantastical set pieces, the size, colors, shapes and wacky mayhem that will come of them, is going to entertain us old codgers as well as the Disney-loving generation.

High school Principal Wade Lawrence relinquishes use of the gymnasium for four to five weeks for actual set-building, then the almost miraculous one-day tear down of the entire place. Rehearsals take place at other places on the campus until the first faux floor is actually laid down to protect the wood floors.

When Miles and I went on Saturday, that he may check in with his old commander-in-chief-of-all-things-musical-and-fun, Kirk Henning, Kirk was at the helm prompting a group of what must be “angry citizens” on how to act at that moment by asking them, “So, what is it you’re saying right now there in the background? How are you going to convey that with your body without people actually hearing any words coming out of your mouth?”

While he was using recorded music at the time, that is one more major element in the history of Coast Union productions — a live orchestra. Community members, students of all ages, provide the rich, inimitable sound of real music! Some of these volunteers play with the San Luis Obispo Symphony Orchestra, while others may be retired professional musicians. The young people are extremely talented in their own right! What a joy!

Professional lighting standards, involved set designs, beautiful costuming, kids from all grade levels and even an occasional grownup or two round out this experience. This year: life-sized puppets! I’ll say no more! Tickets are on sale  (if they’re still available) at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce. All proceeds go back into the drama fund for future plays — and the extremely creative future of hundreds of Cambria kids to come!

‘Beauty and the Beast’

Presented by Coast Union High School Drama. 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, April 5 to 7 and 12 to 14, CUHS gym, 2950 Santa Rosa Creek Road, Cambria. Ticket info: Cambria Chamber of Commerce, 767 Main St.; 927-3624, 909-1514, www.cuhsdrama.com.

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at tiedi@att.net, or visit her web site at www.ladytiedi.com.

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