“Beauty and the Beast” at Dos Pueblos High School

After two decades as an acting teacher and director at Dos Pueblos High School, Clark Sayre’s final reminder before his retirement will be this year’s next musical, Disney’s beauty and the beastst. What was the first show at the Elings Performing Arts Center on the Dos Pueblos campus in 2008 will now be Sayre’s farewell production. “It’s bittersweet,” says Sayre. “So many great memories and great kids I work with that I will miss.”

The beauty and the Beast is a show that the student-performers of Dos Pueblos grew up watching, so there is a real connection between the cast and the material. Kaitlyn Diffenderfer, who plays Belle, was 6 years old when she saw Sayre’s first version of this production. “They’re about to take that trip out into the ‘open sea somewhere’ outside of the comfort and predictability of high school,” says Sayre. “I think they can relate, because they all find their own identities and places in the world; they can look at a model like Belle and see that it’s okay to be different. It’s actually a good thing to stand out.

Sayre doesn’t usually revisit productions he’s done before, but he wanted his last show to be a Disney vehicle since Dos Pueblos is one of Disney’s few pilot schools for musicals. It’s one of the larger-scale shows Sayre has directed, with spectacular dance numbers and all the technical magic of the moving lights and projection stage.

There has also been a change in Sayre’s leadership style. “I was a very bossy director,” he says and describes directing and choreographing every moment on stage. Thirteen years ago, he took a course from Seth Barrish and the Barrow Group that revolutionized his approach. “Now, above all, I want to collaborate with actors and discover moments. I encourage actors to “act” during rehearsals so that we can experience each moment in a new way. I lose a bit of sharpness this way, but you gain spontaneity, which makes it more fun for the actors and the audience.

by Disney The beauty and the Beast takes place April 22-23, 30 and May 6-7 at the Elings Performing Arts Center on the DPHS campus (7266 Alameda Ave., Goleta). For more information, see dtheatrecompany.org.

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