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Life Before Belle: Middle School Students Present "A Rose's Curse"

Have you ever wondered about the Beast’s life before he was cursed? Tomorrow our middle-schoolers will help fill in the blanks on the Beast’s pre-Belle period when they perform their original musical, “A Rose’s Curse” - a prequel to the classic tale “Beauty and the Beast.”

That’s right - original musical. Under middle school music teacher Heather Wadler’s guidance, the middle-schoolers wrote, composed and produced “A Rose’s Curse” over the course of the school year. It’s an undertaking few classes of 10 middle school students might choose to pursue, but after weighing other options for a spring musical, they decided to create their own show.

“The kids were excited, but were unsure because they know how much goes into a musical that’s already created let alone one they are creating themselves,” Heather said.

Heather had an opportunity to test the idea of creating an original musical last year at PRIED Middle School (now part of WMS’s middle school). When she reviewed existing options for school musicals, she found nothing suitable for a smaller group. She proposed the students write their own show, and they staged their original production, “Never Forgotten,” last May. 

“It all came together last year and was such a positive experience that we wanted to continue,” Heather said. “Families wanted that too - everyone was very impressed with the way it all came together.”

The middle-schoolers began the process of creating “A Rose’s Curse,” in September by reviewing the different aspects of musicals. They examined the qualities that made the top 10 musicals successful as well as what made the least successful musicals flop. Each student then wrote a pitch for an original musical storyline, and the class voted to further develop eighth-grader Addie Laster’s “Beauty and the Beast” prequel idea.

The group formed different committees to oversee character and theme development, songwriting and set design, and each student took on writing one scene in the show. Once the script was written, students auditioned for parts and production roles.

“Everyone has a larger role beyond acting,” Heather explained. “Assistant director, choreographer, music director, props manager, stage manager, costumer, lighting designer, sound manager …”

Several 9-12 students were also recruited to help as background actors and stage crew.

The middle-schoolers’ process of creating an original musical has garnered attention beyond our WMS community. In October, Heather gave a presentation at the Delaware State Arts Conference about creating original musicals with middle-schoolers, and she is in the process of writing a chapter about it for an upcoming sourcebook for secondary general music at the request of a University of Delaware professor.

Attend "A Rose's Curse" Thursday, May 9, at 9:30 a.m. (dress rehearsal) and 7 p.m. (main performance) in the WMS gym.