The builder and the exchange student
WHILE this might sound like a title from an Art House movie, the Builder and the Exchange Student were both heavily involved in MMuDS’ latest production of Beauty and the Beast.
Tom Smits, the exchange student who hails from Bargteheide, near Hamburg in Germany, arrived in Mansfield in August and will stay until June next year.
In year 10 at Mansfield High School, Tom is studying Maths, English, Humanities, Physics, Graphic Art and Drama.
When asked what he expected to see and do when he arrived in Australia Tom replied “kangaroos and surfing”.
Kangaroos we can manage, but even with all the recent rain surfing will be a bit of a stretch.
Tom is staying with Paul and Maja Valente and their four children Luka 9, Briella 7, Johanna 6 and Micah 4.
Paul said, “We wanted to give a young person the chance to experience life in an Australian country town and our children the experience of another culture,” Paul said.
Tom has fitted in well both at school and at home becoming a surrogate big brother to Luke, Briella, Johanna and Micah.
With Tom’s interest in drama and the performing arts, it was only natural that he would be warmly welcomed into the MMuDS family shortly after his arrival.
Tom worked back stage on Beauty and the Beast and delighted everyone he met with his thoughtfulness, inquisitiveness and his keen sense of humour.
While Beauty and the Beast was taking up most of Tom’s time he also planned on taking up Little Athletics (high jump) and would like to do some travelling in Australia if time permits.
Bob Symonds, the builder, plays the Beast in Beauty and the Beast.
Bob’s first and only other performance with MMuDS was as Judas in its 2008 production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Bob has lived in Mansfield for about nine years and when he is not busy working or learning lines, Bob enjoys playing guitar and writing songs.
With his gravelly, “rock star” voice and a yell that still startles the cast (and probably the tradies who work with him) Bob’s portrayal of the young prince changed into beastly form by an enchantress is extraordinary, bringing deeper meaning and realism t o t he well- known Disney character.
Bob has given his t i me and energy not only on stage, but off stage as well with his building skills and practical approach to those tricky set and technical decisions, with the help of Tom.