RSU13 recently hosted Heartwood Regional Theatre Company’s original production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Nearly 700 students from Cushing Community School, South School, Lura Libby, Gilford Butler and Owls Head sat in awe as actors brought the famed fairy tale to life in Rockland, Thomaston and Owls Head. The show also is visiting Five Town CSD schools.

Reactions to the experience were overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Second grader Katherine Freeman said her favorite part was when Belle decided to marry the Beast and lived happily ever, while her classmate Connor Bannow focused on the moral of this fable: “I’ve noticed that all fairy tales teach a lesson. This lesson is that you shouldn’t look at the outside for the true person, you should look on the inside.”

RSU13 Adult and Community Education sponsored the events in collaboration with Heartwood of Damariscotta. Heartwood Goes to School is an educational outreach program bringing theater arts education and programming to Midcoast schools in Lincoln, Knox, Waldo and Sagadahoc counties. The program is designed to allow K-12 students to experience many forms of performing arts including theater, mime, dancing, storytelling and puppetry. Heartwood Goes to School programming includes performances by professional Maine artists and theater arts workshops for students and teachers.

John Sommo, principal of Owls Head School, was particularly impressed with the level of engagement the production afforded.

“It was especially rewarding to see the entire school warming up with the actors. The workshops offered an opportunity for all students to work on expression in a small group setting with professional guidance,” he said.

RSU13 Adult and Community Education is dedicated to enhancing arts experiences for children in grades K-12. Last year, RSU13 students were exposed to a variety of artistic initiatives including Heartwood’s “Prince Ivan and the Grey Wolf”; “Sleepy Hollow” by the Frogtown Puppeteers; Atlantic Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker”; performances by Old Grey Goose International, and a visit by local children’s author and illustrator Chris Van Dusen. In addition, RSU13 Adult and Community Education sponsors after-school arts clubs at Thomaston Grammar, Rockland District Middle and South schools.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.