The Record-breaking Weekend of Hartfield Theatre’s 2023 Spring Production of Beauty and the Beast

4 sold out shows, 50 cast and crew, and a group of 25 seniors rounded out the record-breaking weekend of Hartfield Theatre’s 2023 Spring Production of Beauty and the Beast. Such a successful run made this show seem to be a little more magical! Many would say that the extra shine was due to the level of talent increasing and I wouldn’t hesitate to brag on the God-given gifts that were witnessed on the stage that weekend. Others might comment that it had something to do with the leadership of the large group of seniors that were part of the cast and crew and I would heartily agree that their commitment and hard work were a blessing in and outside of rehearsals. However, I believe that what had audiences seeking to come back for multiple showings has more to do with the pure joy that was evident from the time the lights came up to the last bow. As their director, I am most proud of how they exuded that joy off-stage and behind the scenes.
Each performance comes with its own set of challenges, but the 4 months leading up to opening night in April were particularly difficult this year, and yet their joy remained. With a long song list, large choreographed numbers, and an intricate story to tell, rehearsals could last for hours, and getting the details right becomes tedious, and yet this group of 6-12th graders continued to come into rehearsals with a smile and a willingness to continue the work. Halfway through the rehearsal calendar, we lost a beloved cast member. Yet as they mourned, they pushed harder, knowing that they were honoring their friend by continuing to do the thing He
loved to do. Study Halls taken over by impromptu practices as students were determined to be off book and choreography being rehearsed in between classes will forever be a part of the memories of this show. This group had fun and it showed. But the source of all the fun, joy, and relationships built came from a much deeper place than just being excited about performing on stage.

As with every Hartfield production, there is a theme or focus point we chose to highlight. This year, we choose Mathew 6:21 - “For where your treasure is, there your heart is also” paired with the line “Home is where the heart is” from the song “Home” sung by the character of Belle after she is faced with a life of isolation due to her sacrificial choice to take her father’s place. This truth is what I witnessed each student live out over those 4 months, both on and off the stage. They chose to keep their eyes on the Father and live in the joy of knowing where their true and ultimate treasure lies, trusting in the Lord’s faithfulness in the midst of struggle, stress, and heartache. That trust spilled out over 4 shows of audiences, asking each theater-goer to join with them in the security of identity and peace in the face of the future found in knowing that their heart, and therefore their eternal home, is with their Savior.
Hartfield Academy is fully accredited by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the MidSouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Southern Association of independent Schools (SAIS).