Beauty and the Beast


Auden Yurman, Staff Writer

Theater is a major part of school for a lot of students throughout middle and high school. For many, middle school drama club acts as a perfect introduction to the world of theater before the intensity of high school thespians. For example, the Park Forest Middle school’s production of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” had a much less adult tone than the upcoming State High production “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”.

“Beauty and the Beast Jr.” was performed at the Park Forest auditorium on February 24, 25, and 26. The character of Belle was played by Lauren Lieb, an 8th grader at Park Forest. “I do theatre because I absolutely love singing and acting but also because I love the atmosphere and excitement of creating a live production for an audience.  I feel a connection to Belle because we are both love to read and we have a close connection to our families. Belle isn’t afraid to be herself and I love that about her. The things I put in my character are mostly drawn from real life, like how I am so enthusiastic about books, the way I talk back to Gaston and how I get excited over little things,” Lieb said.  This was her 2nd show with Drama Club, and she doesn’t plan to end her theater career now, “I would really like to [join thespians]! I want to sing and act as long as I can.”

Members of the Drama Club crew are also excited to continue along this path. “The moment I started theater something just clicked and I realized that that was my niche. I am happier because I found it, though sometimes it might not seem like that to others because I’m always so tired from rehearsal. It definitely affects me socially as the cast and crew of the show become very close,” said Julia Genovese, the 8th grader who stage managed “Beauty and the Beast”. “The things I’ve learned from stage managing are infinite… I’ve learned what it takes to keep a show together, which is invaluable information I will keep with me forever.” As for the future, Genovese won’t be able to join Thespians because of not going to State High, but she still plans to keep theater in her life.

Drama club is not only impactful in the lives of its current participants, but also an experience that stays with its alumni. A few 9th grade Park Forest graduates returned to Drama Club to help out any way they could. “I absolutely loved my time at PFMS Drama Club, and I really wanted to give back and help out! It never feels bad to help someone else out…and it feels wonderful when you’re helping someone with something you love,” said freshman Nicole Mcfadden-Derer, “Drama Club helped me to practice my talents on stage, but it also impacted many other parts of my life. It really helped me boost my confidence.” She also noted the differences between Drama Club and Thespians, mainly in the rigorousness of the show and the focus on having a good time with friends and learning about theater versus putting in as much effort as possible to create a very high quality show. “They do have quite a different feeling to them, but both are very enjoyable for what they offer,” Mcfadden-Derer added. Another Park Forest drama club alumni, freshman Will Fecko, said a lot of the same ideas. “Drama gave me a really awesome environment to be in throughout my 8th grade year. It was great at the end of the day to walk into the auditorium and be shrouded with my friends. It also gave me a good look into what thespians would be like in the following year. In thespians, I think they have a lot more expectations for us,” said Fecko, “I decided to help out with Drama mostly because I miss it, I miss my group of friends and directors from last year. And I thought going to help out is just something I wanted to do.”

Despite the differences in intentions and rehearsal styles, students in Thespians and Drama Club share their love of theater. For some high school kids, that passion was created or enhanced during their years at Park Forest. The future ahead of them may or may not include theater, but the friends they’ve made and the lessons they’ve learned will stay with them forever.