Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The schools are alive

With the sound of live productions by local actors and dancers

Express Staff Writer

Cherie Kessler and Chris Carwithen join forces in “Cool Suit,” a spin on the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” put on by St. Thomas Playhouse. Courtesy photo by Heather Black

    Various performing acts are showing their long winter’s work with a number of spring productions in the coming weeks.
    The Sun Valley Ballet School is presenting free performances of the “Wizard of Oz” for its seventh biennial Children Series.  
    The shows will be at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum on March 4 and March 5, with two viewings each day at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
    The Children Series is an abbreviated version of the story, which the ballet school performed in December. The dancers will perform to four full houses with 1,100 students at Bellevue, Woodside, Hailey, Hemingway, Pioneer Montessori, the Community School, Sage School, and Little River Preschool planning to attend at no charge, thanks to help from the Papoose Club.
    Some of the students who will be attending these performances have never been to a ballet in a theatre environment. This gives the kids a chance to learn about theatre etiquette, how the production is put together and the performing arts.
    Each show will be followed with a Q&A session with the whole “Wizard of Oz” cast and the school’s artistic director, Sherry Horton. The role of Dorothy is played by Lily Gillespie, Scarecrow by Lena Perenchio, Tin Man by Arielle Rawlings, Lion by Bailey Cleven, and Toto by Etienne Blumberg.  
    Those crazy (grown) kids from St. Thomas Playhouse are taking the annual Children’s Theater Tour to virtually all preschools, elementary schools and various public venues to present a musical version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” called “Cool Suit.”
    This version appeals especially to young children ages 1-11; however, there is plenty of sly and broad humor to appeal to adults.
    The performing troupe consists of professional actors Chris Carwithen, Cherie Kessler, Kristy Kuntz, and Matt and Sara Gorby. The Children’s Theater Tour is excited to have the participation of Carwithen, who comes from many Oregon Cabaret Theater and Oregon Shakespeare Festival roles in Ashland.
    “Cool Suit” features a spoiled, vain Emperor who cares for nothing but his own pleasures, especially having a lavish wardrobe. A clever townsperson hatches a brilliant plan to disguise himself as a tailor who makes “cool suits” out of spectacular fabrics. He pitches his majestic suits to the Emperor and further ensnares the spoiled ruler with the catch that the fabric is magical.  Only those who are smart, talented and good-looking are able to see the suit, while those who are unworthy cannot see it.  
    The Children’s Theater Tour selects stories that have important morals that young children easily learn. The themes from “Cool Suit” show children the folly of vanity and how it is important to “think for yourself” and not just follow the crowd.
    All the shows are free and families are encouraged to especially note the public presentations at the Hailey Public Library on Thursday, March 6, and at Iconoclast Books on Saturday, March 8. These shows begin at 2 p.m.
    For further information, call Cherie or Sara at 726-5349.
For older audiences,
the Community School Players present
    “School for Scandal,” by Richard Sheridan, is adapted for contemporary audiences by Lewis John Carlino and performed by the Community School Players under the direction of Patsy Wygle and Keith Moore.
    Performances will be held Thursday, March 6, through Saturday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in the Community School Theater. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults.
    “School for Scandal” was first performed at the Drury Lane Theater in London in 1777.
     Scandal, gossip, intrigue—these words most commonly refer to a tabloid cover but they come together to describe the new Community School production.
    The comedy is about the inner workings of society during the 1700s in London. During this time, people expressed themselves through outlandish clothing and hair and embraced the idea of wit.
    “We wanted them to handle more complicated and dramatic language,” Wygle said. “We contemplated doing one of Shakespeare’s plays, but instead fell in love with Sheridan’s masterpiece. In this play, not only are they handling complex language, they are immersing themselves in characters who are culturally, physically and emotionally very different from themselves while having a blast delving into their 18th-century manners and psyches.”
    The cast includes Taylor Adler, Brooke Allen, Jolie Blair, Tara Burchmore, Tess Burchmore, Izzy Caraluzzi, Pierson Carlsen, Chloe Chrysikopolous, Hannah Dies, Alex Harten, Clara Lima, Evan Marks, Kendall Piggins, Arielle Rawlings, Sam Rogers, Reed Roudabush, Landon Schely, Tara Smith, Addie Stireman, Drake Vernoy, Remy Vernoy, Keegan Whitelaw, Nick Wright and Jamie Wygle. Backstage are Perry Boyle, Emi Carr, Whitney Engelmann, Ethan Kjesbo, Marc Leroux and Colby Marsh. Set design is by Jamey Reynolds, costumes by Maria Gerhardt and lighting by Hilarie Neeley.
And from the Wood River High School Drama Department
    The Wood River High School Drama Department will present a production of Neil Simon’s “Fools”  on Wednesday, March 12, and Thursday, March 13, at 6 p.m., and Friday, March 14, at 7 p.m. with a  Saturday, March 15, matinee at 1 p.m. at the Wood River High School Performing Arts Theater.  
    Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for high-schoolers, $3 for middle-schoolers and $1 for elementary-school students.
    Department chief Karl Nordstrom offered this synopsis: “Leon Tolchinsky is ecstatic. He’s landed a terrific teaching job in an idyllic Russian hamlet. When he arrives, he finds people sweeping dust from the stoops back into their houses and people milking upside down to get more cream. The town has been cursed with Chronic Stupidity for 200 years and Leon’s job is to break the curse. No one tells him that if he stays over 24 hours and fails to break the curse, he too becomes stupid. But, he has fallen in love with a girl so stupid that she has only recently learned how to sit down.”
    CBS called it “the brightest, freshest, funniest, wittiest, warmest and happiest to do on Broadway in many a day.”
    “Fools” was first presented at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City on April 6, 1981.
    American playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon is widely regarded as one of the most successful, prolific and performed playwrights in the world. He has received more Academy and Tony nominations than any other writer.  Awards he has received include the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Awards and a special Tony Award for Overall Contribution To The Theatre.
    Cast and crew are Hayden Mann, Drake Arial, Caroline Scarbrough, Sadera Shultz, Logan Scarbrough, Taylor Lenane, Eva Sorensen, Kagen Albright, Alexandra Begly, Sammy Black, Yisel Reigle, Hallie Taylor, Shannon Robertson, Brenna Marshall, Hilarie Neely and the Wood River High School play production class, Interact.

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