Steamboat Springs Middle School student Reina Salky, who is playing Belle, and members of the Steamboat Springs Middle School work on a production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Kelly Anzalone and Stuart Handloff are working with the Steamboat Springs Arts Council and Steamboat Springs Middle School to make the movie.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs Middle School student Reina Salky, who is playing Belle, and members of the Steamboat Springs Middle School work on a production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Kelly Anzalone and Stuart Handloff are working with the Steamboat Springs Arts Council and Steamboat Springs Middle School to make the movie.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ film takes place of middle school spring musical

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Screenings of Steamboat Springs Middle School’s “Beauty and the Beast” movie-musical are at 7 p.m. May 20 and 21 at Steamboat Springs High School. Admission will be $9 for adults and $5 for children with tickets available at the door.

— On Tuesday afternoon in Gondola Square, groups of middle-school-age townspeople were bustling by cameras and the leading lady.

As director Stuart Handloff called out group numbers to cue actors, a pre-recorded soundtrack of Steamboat Springs Middle School student Reina Salky belting out the opening number to “Beauty and the Beast” filled the deserted ski village.

For the past few weeks, about 35 students from Steamboat Springs Middle School have been memorizing songs and lines, recording audio and filming scenes for a movie-musical collaboration between the middle school and the Steamboat Springs Arts Council.

Once all the scenes of “Beauty and the Beast” are filmed and edited, the students will have their big-screen debut in two screenings May 20 and 21 at Steamboat Springs High School. Taking the place of the annual spring musical at the middle school, the project came out of a desire to offer performing arts experience to students after limited time and resources canceled the school’s usual spring production, Handloff said.

After a few parents got together with Handloff and Arts Council Board President Kelly Anzalone, the group decided it might not have the time and resources to do a full-stage musical, either, Handloff said. While visiting his graduate drama school in New Zealand during fall, Handloff mentioned the problem to a former professor. When the professor heard Anzalone had video skills, he said, “Why don’t you do a movie?” Handloff said.

Handloff, Anzalone and parent Paula Salky started meeting to discuss ideas, and they landed on a junior version of “Beauty and the Beast.” They had casting done by Blues Break and have spent the meantime ironing out music and lines, Salky said.

This week, they started filming a village scene in Gondola Square. Instead of building sets, everything will be shot on location — Steamboat Smokehouse acts as a tavern, the barn at The Porches is the Beast’s castle, and Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp is the forest and Belle’s cottage, Anzalone said.

“There’s all these wonderful places that we’ve got here in the community that will work,” Handloff said. Paula Salky helped the student actors record songs in early April, so most of the sound work is done, Handloff said. Students from the middle school and Steamboat Springs High School are running the cameras, and Anzalone is handling editing and the technical big picture, Handloff said.

Maggie Carrigan, a seventh-grader playing the candlestick character Lumiere, said the experience of filming “Beauty and the Beast” using Steamboat as a modern-day village has been a good one.

“It’s kind of weird to me because I’ve been in a bunch of productions, but it’s a new experience for me. … And to do this stuff is amazing because you don’t really get to in a middle school that often,” Maggie said.

Reina Salky, a seventh-grader who is playing Belle, said she has had fun learning the musical’s songs and dances with her friends and has enjoyed the challenge of making a movie.

“The learning process is a lot different,” she said, adding that memorizing lines has been the biggest challenge.

“I think it’s going to be a good show after we’ve got it all together, and I think it’s going to be worth it,” she said.

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