PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: Elementary Schoolers Performing Beauty and the Beast Invited 700 People to Be Their Guest | Playbill

Education News PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: Elementary Schoolers Performing Beauty and the Beast Invited 700 People to Be Their Guest

This Georgia School even hired a choreographer, which students love.

Haw Creek Elementary School's Beauty and the Beast

Welcome to PLAYBILLDER Spotlight, where Playbill highlights shows and events from educational institutions around the country (who have used Playbill's program-building service). By welcoming these PLAYBILLDERs center stage, we hope to give our readers a more in-depth look at theatre programs that are fostering the love of the performing arts in the next generation.

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This week's spotlight is Haw Creek Elementary School of Cumming, Georgia and their production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, JR. The classic story, adapted from the Disney animated film, follows Belle, a young woman who must teach the Beast, a prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress, to love and be loved. Featuring songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice, this "tale as old as time" is one of the top 20 most-produced youth theatre shows in the country.

Theatre Director Terri Barrilleaux shared with Playbill how her elementary school students took control of their roles and why they love writing their Playbill bios.

Tell us a little about yourself. How many years have you been teaching?
Terri Barrilleaux: This is my 14th year in education. I am the theatre director at Haw Creek Elementary School and the director of this year's school production, Beauty and the Beast, JR. I work with my colleagues, Kaitlyn Sneath, our music director, and Ginger Rodriguez, our set designer and stage manager. Between the three of us, we have over 40 years of experience in education.

What is your proudest moment as an educator?
My proudest moment as an educator is watching the students shine on stage! We had many students this year who had never acted on such a large stage before. They took control of their role and it showed!

Can you share a little bit about the value you see in having a performing arts program in schools?
Theatre and its elements are vital to lifelong learning for students. Theatre skills encompass all aspects of other subjects, including speaking, listening, and presentation skills. Theatre skills marry the English Language Arts (ELA) standards in our district as they are very similar. From storytelling and story elements, theatre skills have it all!

What shows are your kids obsessed with right now?
Shows that kids are obsessed with right now are all things Disney! They love all of the Disney shows including The Little Mermaid and all of the other classics.

How does your school’s performing arts programs impact your community?
Our performing arts shows hugely positively impact our community. One of the core values of our school is connection, thus having our parents get involved and help with all of our productions is essential. Parents help to create sets, help create the Playbill, sell concessions, assist with costumes, take our headshot images, and so much more. They jump in to help without hesitation. Not only do we have parents and families of our cast members as part of our production, but we also have support from our school administration, faculty, and staff. We have other families that come out to support their friends in our cast and crew. It is truly a beautiful family event. This year, we estimate that we had over 700 in our audience for our production.

What are your dreams for how your drama department can grow?
We hope to continue to grow our theatre troupe at Haw Creek Elementary School. Our goal is to continue to work with the community to gain more sponsors to add to our funding. This will enable us to grow our future productions.

Haw Creek Elementary School student

Tell us a little bit about the production. What made you pick the show? How do you choose shows for your students?
This year, we chose the show Beauty and the Beast, JR due to the classic nature of the musical. The songs in the show are so beautiful. We had also never attempted this show before. Our set designer had so many wonderful ideas and we thought it would be a great to bring this classic tale to life with our students. We like to choose shows with larger ensembles to allow for as many students to participate as possible. We combined our chorus with our musical production this year. This worked well and we will continue to do this in the future.

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What are the kids loving about the show?
The kids honestly love the music. We hired a choreography this year to help us with the larger ensemble numbers. They absolutely loved dancing to the songs in this show, especially to the song "Be Our Guest"!

What message do you have for your students as they take the stage?
Simply have fun! We encourage them to enjoy themselves and take it in. We do not perform our shows on our school stage, but at a larger facility in our county with a much larger stage. The students usually need time to adjust, but once they begin performing, they feel so special on such a big stage! We take the first few moments once we enter the larger stage to let the students get out their excitement before we get started. It is such a special time.

How did the students participate in the design or production of this Playbill? Students loved working on their bios. Our students are only in 4th and 5th grades, so writing a bio was a new concept for them! Also, some students have never taken official headshot pictures before. They absolutely felt so special!

What reactions do you expect to see in students when they see their name printed in this Playbill for the first time?
Our students loved seeing their images and bios in the Playbill! A parent was able to assist us with the headshots this year so that community connection was evident.

To design Broadway-quality programs for your next show, head to Who knows, you might just be featured in our next PLAYBILLDER Spotlight! And if you are looking for a beautiful way to display your Playbills, click here to purchase Playbill frames.

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