Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton to perform Shakespeare comedies to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ this season

Oct 04, 2021 11:13AM ● By Julie Slama

Brighton High students Kyle Barney and Jordan Wilson check their inventory of flats before beginning to paint for their December musical, “Beauty and the Beast.” (Photo courtesy of Brighton High School theatre department)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When Makayla Conner joined Brighton High’s faculty in January, she met the challenges straight on—from teaching and having her students perform during COVID-19 in amongst the ongoing construction of a new school—to writing and producing a showcase or cabaret of some of the past shows Brighton students have performed as the first production on the school’s new stage.

“It’s my first teaching job, and I love it,” said the new theater director. “It’s been challenging, but I love the kids.”

This year, she’s carved out the season giving students opportunities to perform musical theatre to a dramatic play to Shakespearean comedy.

“I want to give them a chance to learn theater and give the audiences laughter or be able to perform dramatic, serious pieces,” she said.

This year’s season starts with the Bengals performing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the 45th annual high school Shakespeare competition in Cedar City. The contest begins this year with video submissions of monologues and scenes, which is new this year. Finalists will be chosen from those submissions and the finals will be held in-person. Other events, including dance company who is set to compete, also will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Cedar City.

They return with less than one month before 17 musical theatre students perform a scene from “Elf” in the dance company’s Halloween-themed concert.  

“We’re taking a twist on it saying Halloween isn’t as scary as it is to set up for the holidays before Thanksgiving—and certainly, before Halloween is way too early,” Conner said.

In trade, the dance company will perform when the theatre students take to the stage with their own production of “Beauty and the Beast.” The dance company will be featured in the number, “Be Our Guest.”

“‘Beauty and the Beast’ was already chosen last year, but because of COVID and construction, it was decided to push it back to this year,” Conner said. 

“Beauty and the Beast,” adapted from the Walt Disney Picture’s Academy Award-winning musical film, tells the story of an uncaring prince being magically transformed into a beast as punishment for his selfishness. To revert to his human form, he must earn the love of another before it becomes too late—and chose Belle, a beautiful, smart young village woman, who is imprisoned in his enchanted castle.

Butler Middle School students were invited to audition and perform as “Chip” and the show will feature a teacup chorus.  

About 10 stage tech students are designing the set and costumes and junior Reia Posselli is designing the musical’s poster.

The show will be at 7 p.m., Dec. 3, 4 and 6, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 4 at the Bengals’ new auditorium on the west end of campus, 2220 E. Bengal Blvd. Tickets are $8 and are available online beginning in November at There also are photo opportunities planned with the Beast and Belle as a fundraiser for the theatre department. 

The thespians then plan to rehearse and perform “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” a one-act play based upon poetry created by Jewish children in a concentration camp north of Prague. More than 15,000 children passed through Terezín camp, only about 100 survived when the camp was liberated at the end of the war. The title comes from one survivor who taught children and created an imaginary world filled with flowers and butterflies to give them hope, create laughter and play behind the barbed wire.

That play will be Brighton’s regional theatre competition piece, which they will perform in March at Murray High. State will be April 21-23, 2022.

On April 29, 2022, the theatre students will perform a Shakespeare showcase with monologues, scenes and “Twelfth Night.”  

The romantic comedy centers around Viola and Sebastian, twins who were separated during a shipwreck. Viola disguises herself as a man, Cesario, and serves Duke Orsino. Duke Orsino is in love with Olivia, who while mourning the death of her brother, refuses to accept love or marriage proposals until seven years have passed. Duke Orsino then uses Cesario as an intermediary to profess his love. Olivia, however, falls in love with Cesario and Viola has fallen in love with Duke Orsino, creating a love triangle. Then, enters Sebastian, who did not drown as believed, and Olivia mistakenly believes he is Cesario, so they secretly marry. When Cesario and Sebastian are seen together by Olivia, Cesario admits to actually being Viola and reunites with her brother before marrying Duke Orsino. 

However, Brighton theatre students will introduce the play setting in the 1920s, with Viola wearing suspenders and a newsboy cap and Olivia, dressed in a high society flapper dress.

“The students are seeing how adaptable Shakespeare is—not just set in the Renaissance period when guys performed in tights. It also shows how Shakespeare is still relevant today. We’d be looking to perform outside on our patio overlooking the city,” if conditions allow, Conner said.

Conner grew up in Sandy and attended Hillcrest High, attracted to the international baccalaureate program and theatre program under Josh Long and Giselle Gremmert—even though her brother attended Brighton. She student-taught under Phaidra Atkinson at Corner Canyon High until COVID-19 closed schools. Then, she worked as an enrollment counselor at Western Governors University until she learned the Brighton position opened.

“I’ve been able to have these theatre teachers as my mentors and support while starting out,” she said. “It’s always been Hillcrest versus Brighton at my house, and I’d joke about the rivalry that I didn’t want to go to Brighton where my brother was, but once I came here, I’ve felt at home right away. This is where I’m supposed to be.”