Summer Mondays Make Possible Winter Production of HEIDI

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on January 18, 2013

It was sheer bliss! The summer before last, when The Sound of Music was up and running, I took Mondays off and spent the morning outside in my backyard with a pitcher of iced tea, a large steno pad and a copy of Heidi.

At night during performances of The Sound of Music, between set changes and helping children down an escape ladder, if a particular scene had two songs, I read Heidi. If only one song, I looked at my lines for The Sound of Music. I struck (moved) a chair for set changes, but I never sat in it; I would bring it on and take it off. The chair and I became friends on a purely social, but not on an intimate basis.

So on those Mondays, leading an oh-so-idyllic life, I would write what I had read and turned Johanna Spyri’s story into dialogue, writing as a producer, combining characters and eliminating some soft plot lines. The creative spirit lands for a limited time — forty-five minutes to an hour and twenty minutes, tops — then it is only going over and trying to make the scribble look like something other than scribble, which our Katie magically turns into readable material.

Last summer, pages were handed out each day to eager and willing Parks and Rec participants, who learned lines, created characters and brought life to the printed word. Some scenes needed tightening, some expanded for costume changes, and some reworked just for the fun of it.

Four ingénues took the process very seriously. Beginning this Saturday, these four young people — Gavin Berlyak, Kourtni Cottrell, Lauren Mund and Madeline O’Connor — by dedication, tenacity and sheer willpower, will perform alongside seasoned professionals Leslie Greene, Colin Ryan, Ryan Bowie, Matt Casey and Jill Whittinghill.

Pacer Harp moved me to tears in his one-man show of Frank Capra’s movie It’s A Wonderful Life at The Renaissance Center in Dickson. I’m always delighted to go to the theatre, but on this occasion I was blown away by the simple telling and limited props used to create the numerous characters that appear and reappear in Bedford Falls. Pacer so eloquently recreated Jimmy Stewart with an impression that was spot-on.

Kudos to APSU’s Darren Michael for giving young acting students the opportunity to tread the boards while wrapping their lips around Shakespeare’s prose, succeeding in 1920s dress which was as foreign to them as Elizabethan garb would have been. In that presentation of Twelfth Night, these young thespians learned more from doing than can ever be taught or learned from lectures; there is no film that captures the stage life energy which exudes from the smallest bit player.

At 8pm tonight and tomorrow in theotherspace, Allie Michael — the beautiful and talented wife of Darren Michael — finishes her stint in The Vagina Monologues. Tomorrow at noon, the Saturday School of the Arts presents their final “informance” of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. And at 2pm, Heidi makes her debut.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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