K-M’s technology wing helps ‘Beauty and the Beast’ come to life
With the Kasson-Mantorville theater department currently in its run of “Beauty and The Beast” for the fall musical, it’s a great opportunity to give students a chance to express their passions. While most of the play centers around the young actors and actresses that bring the play to life, Beauty and The Beast is unique in that it requires many complex props.
Two of those props consist of a rose that loses its pedals throughout the play (to signal when the Beast’s curse becomes permanent) and Chip’s cart which enables the small character to move around during the course of the play.
To make these props come to life is a challenge for the play to truly become special, but fortunately, the drama department had a group of people to lean on in the K-M Industrial Program. With the help of the program, several students and advisors were able to come up with solutions for these two problems to make the play look like a professional production.
The process started on the first day of school when senior Reese Blaisdell showed up for his independent study with K-M industrial teacher Chris Oterness. Oterness would make the rose for the play Blaisdell’s first project for the study and while there was some reluctance initially, Blaisdell went to work looking at a YouTube video for inspiration.
“It’s about being able to take a problem and come up with your own solution to it,” Blaisdell said of the process. “It’s also being able to say that you figured it out on your own. Being able to make something this complicated when you start out with nothing but a YouTube video and turning it into your own is a challenge.”
Blaisdell took the idea from the YouTube video and began making his own adjustments. He crafted the rose’s base from the wood shop and then attached five servos to the bottom of it using brass L-brackets. From there, each servo was connected to a fishing line with a magnet on the end of it.
By putting a metal clip on the end of each rose pedal, the servos pull back on each magnet causing the pedals to drop at certain times of the play. While there are other challenges such as making sure the pedal does not clip onto a bare magnet, a little additional help from agriculture teacher Lori Pagel helped make the Beast’s rose come to life after nearly 53 hours of construction.
“It gives me a good feeling inside knowing that I was the one that built that and there are a lot of other people that are thankful for something that I did,” Blaisdell said. “It gives me a little more joy knowing that I did something for this, but didn’t actually do anything in terms of being involved with it on stage.”
With the rose constructed, another challenge was the construction of Chip’s cart. While the frame was already in place, the need to make the cart elegant made for another problem to be solved.
Advisor Aaron Davis would work with an industrial student to make this happen and using a table, a router and some plywood, they got to work constructing Chip’s main means of transportation.
“Our router does a little bit of engraving, but we never cut anything out of it,” Davis explained. “This was our chance to give that a shot.”
After a couple of test runs, they figured out they could carve the outside of the cart out in about three to four minutes. Because the cart was bigger than what they could fit on the table, they also did two runs that could be combined. At that point, Chip was able to come to life.
“It’s kind of fun to use what we have in here and show everyone else in the district see what we can do,” Davis said of the finished product. “We can make stuff that looks pretty professional out of here.”
In the end, the play served as an excellent opportunity for industrial students to use their knowledge in the classroom and apply it to a real-life situation.
“The nice thing with this is that it takes everything out of the classroom,” Davis said. “Even though this is more for school, it’s out in a real world situation. We could do practice welds and that, but if we get kids doing this or going out to McNeilus, it shows that you can use this stuff somewhere else.”