Parishes | Schools | Priests | Masses |
More in this section MAIN MENU

'Explosion of art and talent' at St. Theresa School

Theater 'magic' bonds families, students, staff as they stage 'Beauty and the Beast'

CORAL GABLES | This May, 100 students, 20 parent volunteers, one dozen alumni, countless staff and one very committed music instructor populated the proverbial “village” that brought Belle’s provincial town to life in St. Theresa School’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

For nearly nine months, students in grades 2 through 8 came together weekly to build sets, handle costumes, learn choreography, focus lights and transform themselves into beloved characters for the school’s annual musical production. And for nine months, they were cheered on and supported by the school faculty, the Carmelite sisters who serve St. Theresa, and the parish pastor, Father Manny Alvarez.

Joining an entire crew behind the scenes, sixth grader Sebastian Sierra keeps fellow student actors in the spotlight during St. Theresa School's production of the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast. The play was staged May 6 and 7, 2022.

Photographer: Jesse Wright/JBW Photography

Joining an entire crew behind the scenes, sixth grader Sebastian Sierra keeps fellow student actors in the spotlight during St. Theresa School's production of the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast. The play was staged May 6 and 7, 2022.

Spearheaded by St. Theresa music instructor Rosa Fiol, who also directed the play, Beauty and the Beast was the third full-scale musical production put on by the school. Bringing it to the stage is a year-long process that began with auditions in September and included rehearsals twice a week after school, from September through the show’s premiere May 6 and 7, 2022, in Comber Hall, just across the street from the school campus.

While the cast and crew of students developed a deep bond throughout rehearsals, more than a dozen parent volunteers also got in the mix to support their children and their school, corralling students at practices, managing organized chaos backstage and offering their own professional skills.

The Asturias family, with a father in the architecture industry, worked together to imagine, build and then donate a three-dimensional set that transformed the stage from a French village to Beast’s enchanted castle and back again.

“Theater and music always goes beyond the technical. It builds community. It’s been beautiful to see the students forge new friendships, learn how to collaborate and, in some cases, spend extra time with their own families working toward a common artistic goal,” said Fiol.

Behind the scenes, students created digital art and hand-drawn set pieces. On stage, aspiring actors – some who performed for the first time – danced, sang and acted their way through the most magical moments. Parents, often with multiple children in the cast, such as Ivette Suarez and Susan Fior, were ever present, overseeing sets, props and so much more.

Seventh-grader Daniel Linares, who performed as the butler-turned-clock Cogsworth, said the process can be “stressful and nerve-wracking.” But, he continued, “In the end, it’s really worth it. Being able to see the whole thing come together makes it all worthwhile.”

Fiol said she sees what the students call “nerves” as excitement paired with a desire to succeed. “I tell them when they feel nervous, they could call it passion instead.”

She said the experience of working under pressure is one of the many long-term benefits of musical theater. “You see students grow from very shy to embodying a character fully on stage. They learn discipline, self-confidence, collaboration, problem-solving and, of course, working through nerves.”

Juan Herrera, a sixth grader new to theater who was in charge of backdrops, added, “You can’t mess around. You have a one-minute period to do everything. But I love it. I love hanging out here. I have made a bunch of new friends.”

“Little by little, you see this grow and build. You see this little community come together – and then it’s just an explosion of art and talent,” said Fiol. “Every child should have the arts in their lives. The experience is priceless.”

View the Playbill here for more information on supporters, cast and crew.

Surrounded by students, Rosa Fiol, the musical’s director and St. Theresa music teacher, makes sure all is well at the sound board during the school's production of the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast. The play was staged May 6 and 7, 2022.

Photographer: Jesse Wright/JBW Photography

Surrounded by students, Rosa Fiol, the musical’s director and St. Theresa music teacher, makes sure all is well at the sound board during the school's production of the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast. The play was staged May 6 and 7, 2022.