When Kimball High School’s premiere of the spring musical “Beauty and the Beast” was called off, Jennifer Messenger didn’t let it get her down. She just made her own.
Messenger, who works with the Kimball drama department, collaborated with her family to create a five-minute “Beauty and the Beast” parody for Facebook that has been garnering laughs and attention.
“We’ve all been kind of devastated that it was canceled. It’s my favorite Disney show, so I was super excited,” she said. “So we just thought, instead of being sad about it, we made the little video for the day it should have opened the show.”
Messenger is a scenic artist who helps build and paint sets for Kimball’s drama productions. She also helps teach a “Styles of Theatre” class. Her son Jonothan, a freshman, worked on special effects and lighting for Kimball’s “Beauty and the Beast” before the campus was closed in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
School administrators were unsure at the time how long the closure would last.
The show was supposed to debut April 24 and run two weekends in the Kimball High theater.
“We had auditions. The set was already built — I was already painting it. It was almost done. The kids were learning their dances, and then everything fell apart,” Messenger said.
Later, it became clear that no one would return to campus this school year. The drama students she kept in touch with were disappointed they wouldn’t be able to hold the performance.
“I talk to some of them still and everyone was so sad,” she said.
When the statewide stay-at-home orders came down the week after the school closure, she and Jonothan and the rest of her family — husband Kevin, elder son Michael, who graduated from Kimball in 2016 and was also involved in the drama department, and Lily the family dog — started looking for ways to break up the boredom.
“We’ve been making videos since we’ve been stuck at home. We did a ‘Star Wars’ video — we’re crazy,” she said. “At first, when we thought this was only going to last two weeks, we were making funny little videos every day, and then we got burned out, so we slowed down.”
As April 24 came near, the family put another plan into action. Choosing a few of the best-known scenes “Beauty and the Beast,” they improvised sets and lip-synced to the songs and dialogue from Disney’s animated classic.
The result, published on Facebook, runs just over five minutes and took a little more than an hour to film in the family’s house and backyard.
The Messengers’ take on the story won’t be the last. The Kimball High drama department is planning to make “Beauty and the Beast” its spring show in 2021 using the sets and props that are already made. For now, it’s not clear whether the school will be able to have a fall show.