This week, justArts interviewed Maia Cataldo ’20, who directed this season’s open-cast musical,“Beauty and the Beast.”

justArts: What past experience do you have directing?

Maia Catalado:  When I was a senior in high school, I directed a black box show, “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds,” and I work at a ... summer school for the performing arts.  I’ve directed a couple of straight plays through that. So this is my fourth play that I’ve directed, but my first musical.

JA: How is that different for you as a director?

MC: It feels as though I’m directing three shows at once because there’s the music component, there’s the choreography component and then there’s the blocking and acting component. So, it’s a bit of a challenge to balance those.

JA: How did you get involved in “Beauty and the Beast”?

MC: I just decided to do it on a whim, but it turned out to be a good thing!

JA: What was different about directing an open-cast musical?

MC: Open-cast is really special because it is a place for anybody and everybody to come and be a part of something and work toward one unified goal together that they may not have ever done before. ... It’s not so much about directing the best possible musical you absolutely can but more about making sure that everybody is having fun and everybody is included.

JA: How did that change how you felt about directing?

MC: It’s definitely very different. Instead of focusing on the relationships between actors and making sure that the play itself is reading to the audience, it’s more about, “How can I get as many people … as possible onstage at the same time?”  So it’s different in that regard but it’s not better or worse—it’s just a different kind of approach to directing.

JA: What was the most rewarding part of the production process?

MC: The most rewarding part of the process would be … at the end when [the actors] take their bows and they’re so proud of what they’ve done, and they’re so excited by the product that they have created together out of thin air. And because it’s open cast, they’re really involved in every single aspect of it ... so they feel really tied to the project. ... It feels really good knowing that I helped create that.

JA: Is there anything you personally did with the show of which you’re especially proud?

MC: I think the best thing I did was create a concept that was: We’re telling a story. Everyone knows the story of “Beauty and the Beast,” it’s the “tale as old as time.”  We put a little story book on stage and in the beginning there’s a horde of children coming to listen to the narrator tell this story. They put on their costumes and embody the piece, so it allows for the costumes to be a little more eclectic, it allows for the set to be more [imaginative], and that way it’s a little bit easier to do technically and it’s also more fun and a little bit different than your generic “Beauty and the Beast.”

             —Maya Zanger-Nadis