Beauty and the Beast: Controlling the budget crisis


Staff Writer

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
The budget issue may spell the end of elaborate sets and costumes for productions in the short term future. (Johnny Liu)

The University High School (UHS) Visual and Performing Arts Department recently finished performing its unique version of the Beauty and the Beast musical in late March.
The musical was very successful and sold out four out of six shows, making it the most successful show since the 2009 spring musical Sweet Charity. The department aimed to raise $38,000 to cover all the costs of the musical. Through ticket sales, donations and concessions/memorabilia, the musical generated $24,000 in profit. Regarding the success of the musical, Ms. Ranae Bettger (Visual and Performing Arts Dept.) said, “I believe the spectacle of this type of show, combined with the familiarity of the material, made it a fan favorite. I’d like to believe that unique stylistic choices helped the audience connect to the energy and see the classic in a whole new light, adding to their joyous standing ovations nightly. Obviously, the stellar vocals and impeccable comedic timing helped it go over with a bang!”
The department has several awards shows to attend, including the Cappies Gala, the MACY (Music and Arts Commendation for Youth) awards, the Drama Club Banquet and the International Thespians Society induction. The Cappies Gala serves as the Academy Awards of high school theater, while the MACY awards honor individual performers. The International Thespians Society is an international awards society that offers membership to talented performers and technicians through theater involvement. According to Ms. Bettger, “Induction is a short ceremony where students take an oath to be a lifelong advocate for and lover of theatre arts. At this time, they earn their certificate and membership in UHS’s troupe.” Honors Thespians, who have logged at least 500 hours in theater, earn a special cord to be worn at graduation as well as lifetime membership.
April’s Beauty and the Beast and last year’s Shrek! The Musical were expensive shows. Meanwhile, ACLU donations, which ensure that public education remains free, are at an all-time low. The trickledown effect that began in 2011 has not technically left the Drama Club in debt, but they may be unable to fund next year’s fall play to their usual standard. They plan to continue pursuing corporate sponsorships, apply for grants and fundraise through their performances. Regarding the funds, Bettger said, “We will aim to really sell out next year’s UHS Talent Show 2015 in the fall in an aim to raise funds to support next year’s main stage productions; however, smaller sets and fewer costumes in next year’s show choices seem to be the solution right now. Hopefully, the audience won’t see the difference, as the weight falls on me as producer to select material that fits our budget.”
Although the musical is over, the theater department is still busy with Comedy Sportz’s  Faculty Match and Farewell Senior Match, as well as performances for Eighth Grade Parent Night and Vista Verde. The Farewell Senior Show, Drama’s final project of the year, allows senior students in Drama 2, Advanced Drama, Advanced Tech Theatre and other seniors in Drama Club to audition for a student directed, produced and designed show; it will take place at the Little Theatre in late June. The Drama department is also collaborating with Choir and Band for Cabaret Night, which is run by the Choir student board and takes place the first week of June.
The student actors and technicians involved in UHS Theatre consistently showcase how much talent the program holds.  Ms. Bettger hopes that UHS Theatre Arts will grow even more on stage and in the classroom in the next year, and said, “Drama Club will continue to pursue corporate sponsorships, apply for grants and fundraise in the way we are best capable, performing!”