REVIEW: Chasing Magic: Mary Poppins at Sioux Falls Community Theatre

“It is enough to chase magic. It is enough to believe it possible. But in these moments, they catch it.”

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By Jonathan Fondell – Follow @TheFallsBlog on Twitter

There is a magic to Poppins. Something deep and untouchable, a whirlwind excitement, a shared bewilderment at the world’s favorite nanny. It’s what we remember from the first time we saw the film, it’s what we think of everytime we see an umbrella in the wind. And it’s what we’re chasing every time we bring her into the world, in a children’s book or a Disney movie or a musical for the stage. This weekend, that stage musical comes to Sioux Falls at the Sioux Empire Community Theatre. And it is definitely chasing magic.

The musical, which first opened in 2004, shares many elements with the Disney film. Favorite tunes are all there, plus delightful originals written for the stage. Plotlines are removed and added, characters expand and complicate. Director Callie Hisek has not only brought a new rendition of that musical, with nuance and side stories and moments I’d never seen before; she has crafted a wonderful atmosphere in her cast, across the board, where every bank teller and park walker and kite flier is invested in the scene and ready to react to the fantastic moments that happen onstage.

And happen they do. We are led from scene to scene by narrator and everyman Bert, played by Tim Huggenberger. From the first moment Huggenberger is all charm, possessing an easygoing familiarity with the audience that sucks us in, tells us we’re already friends and, no worries, we’re along for the ride. He introduces us to Michael and Jane Banks (Keegan Sigl, Kalli Barnhart), a talented young pair who play the troublesome children so well that I can’t blame their nannies for leaving.

Colette Gross plays their beleaguered mother Winifred with humanity, total sincerity, and a heartbreaking exhaustion. Similarly, Chris Andrews gives us a George Banks I hadn’t expected: he is soft, even vulnerable at early moments. And while at first I wished for what I’ve seen in the past – a resounding voice, a hard stare at anything out of place – Andrews grew on me. His story is dynamic and his words of disregard for his children still hurt, perhaps even more, without the customary edge to his voice.

Thrown into the mania are the house staff, played by Ruth Sturm and Bob Wendland. Throughout the show we return to their antics, and with these two in charge, I can see why. Strum and Wendland are always good for a laugh, the sincere kind, a hilarity driven by great actors who have committed fully to the joke.

The story moves at a good clip, flying to and from strange worlds with Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane as the nexus. The sets built by Steve Hirsch and team are inventive, using the full space of the Orpheum theatre to great effect. Likewise, Kat Cover’s costumes pull us straight back to Edwardian London, with several brilliant flourishes on the more fantastical characters to heighten the magic for all. The choreography, by Huggenberger, ties the music together with simple steps, layered one over another for cohesive numbers, bounding and laughing rides across stage, song after song.

At their best moments the scene changes, helmed by stage manager Katie Buchholz, are like clockwork. Elements move in all directions at once to land suddenly, perfectly, in position. There were several hiccups, moments where set pieces stalled or sound cues delayed, but each time things picked right back up and flew along again, with a confidence that pulled you right into the next moment.

Into all of this flies the titular nanny herself, portrayed by Martha Stai. And make no mistake: Stai is Mary Poppins. Her presence onstage is captivating, enchanting. Her gaze is piercing, though from time to time you find yourself convinced there’s a twinkle hidden somewhere behind it, a laughter that spills forth at just the right moments. The play ordains that Mary Poppins come down from the sky and fix everything. Stai makes me believe this is possible. She commands every scene she is meant to command, and she slips into the background when it’s time for her magic to take center stage.

And I’d like to finish by talking about the magic.

Some things are required. Mary Poppins flies down from the sky. She pulls a coat rack out of a carpetbag. She makes the medicine taste like rum punch. These are contractual obligations, things that every designer, every crew has to work around, tinker with, make work. And SECT has done a wonderful job with the tricks. But the tricks are not what we’ve come to see.

My favorite scene of the night was the scene that gives birth to The S Word: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Led by the energetic and enchanting Debbi Jones as Mrs. Corry, the cast come together for a truly fantastic number, full of energy and polish and a song-and-dance routine that makes you want to leap out of your seat and join them. There are no trick set pieces, no hidden wires. But it is a powerful, joyous event, enough to make you believe – just for a moment – that Mary Poppins could be real.

And all the tricks in the world can’t compare to that, the real magic of theatre: the elusive laugh that bursts from one character, ripples across the cast and overflows, without judgment or ego or pause of any kind, into an audience that is truly along for the ride.

It is enough to chase magic. It is enough to believe it possible. But in these moments, they catch it.

Sioux Empire Community Theatre’s production of Mary Poppins runs May 6th to May 22nd at the Orpheum Theatre. See SiouxFallsTheatre.com for ticketing information and showtimes.

REVIEW: Shrek, the Musical, Junior; A Pungently Perfect Production!

Who knew that a show at our elegant Washington Pavilion would include a farting contest? Well, I should have; it was Shrek the Musical, Jr. after all.  It’s playing in the Belbas Theater and runs through this weekend. The show is a culmination of the efforts of directors Bob Wendland and Molly Wilson, who wrangled more than sixty students ranging in age from 8-18.   The production is sponsored by the Dakota Academy of Performing Arts, which works exclusively with young people in the Sioux Empire.

The efforts of the directors has paid off in an impressive show that fills the Belbas stage with music and laughter.  It was truly a joy to see the array of young talent from our city in action.  Not only was there dialogue, delivered with great comic timing, but there was singing, choreography and, wait for it,…….tap dancing RATS!  Rather than a big budget show, the production is an immersive educational experience for the students.  You won’t see pyrotechnics or fancy equipment, but the costumes and simple props do their job, transporting the audience to the fairy tale kingdom of Duloc.

Our hero is Shrek, a grumpy, green ogre who lives in a swamp and likes his solitude. One day he comes home to find his muddy abode overrun with dozens of fairy tale characters including Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs, and the Big Bad Wolf.  Shrek is none too happy with this development and sets off to Duloc Castle to reclaim his property from Lord Farquaad.

To his dismay, Shrek gains a travel partner, a talking donkey who will not shut up.  Arriving at the castle he is informed by Lord Farquaad that his swamp will be returned if he completes a “simple task”.  He must rescue the Princess Fiona from her dragon-guarded tower, and bring her to Duloc to be Farquaad’s bride.   Our Shrek,  fearless and always on task, sets off, with Donkey in tow.

Along the way we meet, as the Old Woman in The Shoe would say, “So many characters we don’t know what to do”.  Each one has its own personality and is accented by colorful costumes.  

Coleman Peterson, as Shrek, shows significant talent as a vocalist, and delivers his lines with solid timing and facial expression.  He plays Shrek without a heavy Irish brogue, and that’s okay.  He has just enough of the blarney, and his voice successfully presents the character’s anger, laughter, and, at times, tenderness.

Maddie Lumkoski, as the adult Fiona, was stellar.  Her lines were clean and her songs emotive and lovely.  As a musical theater performer, her body movement and facial expressions were spot on for the character.  We could tell what Fiona had in mind.

All of these young actors were terrific, but I have to say that my favorite character was Donkey, played by Chris Larson.  His costume was perfect, as was his comic timing.  I dare say that I preferred his delivery to that of the Donkey that came with the traveling Broadway show a couple of years ago.  Larson’s face and voice, along with his dopey gait, were enough to keep me cracking up throughout the show.

Other stand-outs included the Young Fiona, adorably played by Sophia Santos, Pinocchio and his nose, portrayed by Cody Novotny, and the Big Bad Wolf in a granny dress and pearls, played by Josh Sauer, with hilarious mannerisms. (Disclaimer:  Ok, so the Big Bad Wolf is my kid, I have to name him, but he was good!)

The Gingerbread Man was brought to life by Hannah Sayler as she expertly coordinated her voice and puppeteering skills.  A great performance by Adam Greenfield brought us the obnoxious Lord Farquaad,  and the ethereal, yet menacing Dragon was played by Malia Lukomski, with assistance from Manon Miller, Kyla Smith and Irelynn White.

Behind the scenes were Student Director, Abby Neff and Assistant Stage Manager, Charley Larson.  They handled their jobs well.  I saw no missed cues; only a twisted backdrop mishap, which was handled quickly.

Again, ALL of the characters were wonderful in their own right.  Parents will enjoy the show, but it is strong enough to present to the general public.   It moves quickly and runs just over 90 minutes with an intermission.  The Belbas is a comfy, casual venue where every seat is a good one.  Unfortunately, a check on the Pavilion website shows that all performances have now sold out!

I can guarantee that these kids learned more than lines and choreography while working on this project.   This was a full on immersive lesson in respect, teamwork, listening and follow through.  And that’s the thing about theater, it’s more than just putting on a show.  It’s a building ground for social skills, confidence and self esteem.

Coming up this summer, “Guys & Dolls, Jr.”,  a camp for kids ages 10-14, and Shakespeare Camp, created for older students ages 14-18.

Check out the website   https://www.washingtonpavilion.org/online/   for an array of youth opportunities!

COMMUNITY: Stage Adventures Series and Classes at SECT

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By Le Bender / Follow @LBenderJr / Image courtesy of Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater Center

Now five seasons in the making, the Stage Adventures series is a scion of the ever-improving Sioux Empire Community Theatre.  It’s no coincidence that this is same length of time in which Patrick Pope has been the Producing Artistic Director for SECT.

I sat down with Pope last week to discuss SECT’s current production of The Giver, enjoy some pizza, and talk about what’s next for youth theatre education in Sioux Falls.

As Pope explained, SECT produces two shows each season (one musical + one straight play) for the purpose of “planting the seeds” of our next generation of actors.  If you’ve never been to one of their Stage Adventure productions, what you’ve been missing is the opportunity to see talented young actors playing the roles of protagonists alongside seasoned adult actors.  Age appropriate casting is critical says Pope.

In addition to these two in-season productions, which Pope sees expanding to three productions in the next five years, the Sioux Empire Community Theatre also provides two musical theatre summer camp intensives.  This summer they will be offering Seussical: The Musical Jr for children grades 1–8, followed by Hairspray for youth grades 6–12.  More information about these summer camps can be found on their website.

And if that wasn’t enough (for Pope it’s most definitely NOT enough), SECT will soon embark on a new educational project aimed at providing more formal training to young actors with its own staff, as well as guest instructors from the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University.

Student actors will have the option to take a class in one of four disciplines: Acting, Movement, Voice, and Technical Theatre.  Within each discipline, SECT will offer up to five levels of study (Acting 1 – 5, and so on).  The only catch, students won’t be able to advance to the third level of a given discipline without taking classes in the other disciplines.  The same goes for the fifth level of each discipline.

Pope explains that this gatekeeper approach is intended to promote a well-rounded experience for the young actor. Classes will be approximately 90 minutes in length, take place on Saturdays, and run year round with each class lasting one season (Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer).

Pope is planning a special bonus for students completing all twenty classes: a secret “Ensemble” designation and access to a new set of classes focusing on the craft of playwriting.   Because SECT will be collaborating with guest instructors from the university, Pope hopes work out a small scholarship opportunity for those students reaching the “Ensemble” level designation.

Stay tuned to the Sioux Empire Community Theatre website for more details of this exciting opportunity.

REVIEW: A Year With Frog & Toad; Brings the GREEN with Hilarious Family Fare!

“my granddaughter, Kalie, did not want the story to end, and requested a photo with each and every character. That’s how much fun this show was.”

Frog and Toad
By Julie Sauer- Follow @JulieLSauer

The Green Earth Players really brought the GREEN last weekend with their musical production of A Year With Frog and Toad!  Who knew that, just thirty minutes East on I-90, there is quality musical theatre to be had for the whole family!

The production, held in the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Luverne, Minnesota, is a lovely, century old venue, with the gorgeous woodwork of the era.  You would never realize that this is also the local movie theater, but for the first-rate concession stand.  The stage and seating are of modest size, a bit smaller than the Belbas within the Washington Pavilion.  But, when that curtain opened, a lush, green world was revealed and we were transported to the world of Frog and Toad.

The story begins as Frog and Toad are awakening from their winter slumber.  Frog is eager to get moving; Toad, not so much.  I think Toad is my spirit animal.  We follow the two through a year of adventures, through fun times and scary times, meeting lots of local creatures along the way.  Frog and Toad are the stars of the show, with Casey McKenzie’s chipper attitude and lovely voice giving us a Frog that is an intelligent leader.  Shawn Kinsinger is cast as Toad and creates such a repertoire of toad-escent facial expressions that we couldn’t quit laughing.  His mouth was great but, his EYES!  They bugged, rolled, and side-lagged, doing everything to make us believe he really was a toad! These two actors had amazing comic chemistry and timing.

All of the characters were fun; the naughty squirrels creating chaos, the fairy that changed the seasons, the darling mouse, who looked like a princess, but clearly had less than royal thoughts in her head.  The bird trio was a colorful flock that added narration and clarity to the story, usually through song.  My favorite was “Getta Load of Toad”, an upbeat toe tapper.  Two other stand-outs were Turtle, who waxed her shell with Turtle Wax, and the Mail Snail, who brought life to the phrase “snail mail”; very….very…..slowly.  Not so slow was the Act I Finale, “Cookies”, in which the characters could not stop eating freshly baked cookies.  It was like a stage full of “Cookie Monsters”, with crumbs flying into the orchestra pit!

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Kalie & the Frog Family

The set for the play was rich with color and movement, representing seasons, a flying kite, a running stream, the homes of our heroes, and, best of all: a snow hill for speed-sledding!  It truly was all believable, so much so that my granddaughter, Kalie (aka Speedy as she was wearing her cape and mask), did not want the story to end, and requested a photo with each and every character. That’s how much fun this show was.  The costumes were also very creatively done, using many common household items to represent parts of the animals’ bodies.

This first rate production is totally worth the thirty minute car ride and will keep your children’s attention throughout.  I urge you to check it out this weekend.

Show runs Friday, March 18th & Saturday, March 19th, with showings at 7:30pm.  Sunday, March 20th is a 2:00pm matinee.  Tickets are $14 for Adults & $7 for kids/students.  They are reserved seating, so, if you want to get tickets ahead, call   (507) 283-4339.  No cards are accepted. It is CASH or CHECK only.  

Not Talking Codpieces; SECT’s “Spamalot” Star, Steckelberg Explains Endowment

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DJ Steckelberg, standing center stage in a recent production of Spamalot, is Sioux Empire Community Theatre’s Director of Development

The leadership of the Sioux Empire Community Theatre (SECT) recently announced that we have accomplished an essential fundraising task. Between Nov. 2015 and March 2016 our theatre raised over $10,000 for an endowment challenge.

After an extensive application process, SECT was selected as one of three organizations by the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation for the Arts Endowment Challenge.

The Arts Endowment Challenge sets lofty goals for the organizations to meet. For us at SECT, this meant that we HAD to raise $10,000 by March 2, 2016. If we had failed to meet that goal, the challenge would have been over and the theatre would have had to reassess its fundraising methods and priorities.

Fortunately this was not the case, our theatre raised more than $10,000 by the end of February and completed this part of the challenge. An endowment for Sioux Empire Community Theatre has been established.  But we’re not through the woods.

So, what is an endowment anyway?  An endowment means that we will have a professionally managed fund that will incur interest and grow through the years. The fund can always be added to and a percentage can be drawn from it for board-designated projects or needs. The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation will manage this endowment.

The next step for SECT is both exciting and daunting. We must now raise an additional $90,000 by Dec. 31, 2018. When we accomplish this goal the Foundation will add an additional $33,000 to the endowment!  This money will help to ensure the financial future of the organization for the theatre long-term.

This is truly exciting news for our vibrant community theatre. It speaks to how bold the organization’s vision is.  But this is a daring endeavor to undertake and we’ll need all the help we can get out of  the ‘community’ part of our name.

The $90,000 has to be raised in addition to the fundraising we already do to keep the theatre operational.

Operating a theatre of this size is very expensive. With seven major productions and two youth camps produced annually, costs add up quickly. Costs such as facility rentals (SECT rents their facilities from SMG, the company that manages the Orpheum for the City of Sioux Falls), performance rights, construction materials, insurance, marketing, stipends, and salaries are just a small sampling of operational costs. Ticket sales account for approximately 60% of the income with the rest coming from personal donations, corporate sponsorship and grants.

A special task force is being assembled to help with the extra fundraising effort over the next 34 months and counting, but if you want to help out now – here’s where to send your tax-deductible donation:

Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, (please put “SECT endowment fund” in the memo line) 200 N. Cherapa Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57103. Or you can make a credit card gift at http://www.sfacf.org. Note: SFACF is charged approximately 2.5% fees for credit card transactions made online.

We hope to see support continue to roll in.  If any readers have further questions, please contact me at dj@siouxfallstheatre.com.

– DJ STECKELBERG, Director of Development / Sioux Empire Community Theatre

METRO: Pair a SECT Stage Adventure with A Taste of The Big Apple

By Le Bender – Follow on Twitter @LBenderJr

I recently sat down for lunch with Patrick Pope of the Sioux Empire Community Theatre to discuss their production of The Giver, showing now through March 20, 2016.  If you’re not familiar with the novel or stage adaptation, check out Maxine Houlihan’s synopsis and review here on The Falls Theatre Blog.  The Giver is part of SECT’s Stage Adventure series: theatre that is affordable and accessible for the whole family.

Pope is unapologetically passionate about the future of theatre in South Dakota.  Stay tuned for a feature article about his vision of youth theatre education in Sioux Falls. As the Producing Artistic Director of SECT at The Historic Orpheum Theatre Center, he also has a special interest in the vibrancy of the budding urban landscape that is Downtown Sioux Falls.

We met up at A Taste of the Big Apple in Uptown.  Where is “Uptown” you may ask?  Good question.  I’m still looking for an exact set of boundaries myself.  But from my experience, its the area surrounding Main and Phillips Ave, north of 6th Street toward Falls Park.

In Uptown you will find the Uptown Exchange Lofts and Phillips Ave Lofts.  You know those new gray, cerulean and maroon buildings along the parkway leading to the Falls.  You also have older buildings that have been renovated into residential and commercial spaces, even a church.

Located in the Dakota-Moline Plow Co. & Dempster Mill Mfg building, A Taste of the Big Apple is just off N Main Ave on 4th Street.  If you haven’t spent much time in this part of town lately, I encourage you to go for a stroll and see what’s changed.

CTZF2swVEAANvGlNearby you will find the Museum of Visual Materials and the Icon Lounge.  I enjoy strolling through this part of town on my lunch hour and let me say, there have been some stunning views of the Old Courthouse Museum clock tower during the dead of winter with the low sun in the southern sky.

Entering the Big Apple, you are hit immediately with the smell of fresh pizza dough.  Behind the counter sits a stack of boxes, reminding you that if the weather is too nice, you can always opt to take your pizza to Falls Park for an impromptu picnic.  If you chose to stick around and enjoy the smells, the dining room seats around 50.  There is also a covered patio running the entire length of the south side of the building.

On the menu are thin crust pizzas galore.  In addition to pizza they have calzones, soup and salads, and appetizers.  I’m going to try Grandma’s Knish on a future visit.  Grandmothers have a special way in the kitchen.

Open for lunch and dinner daily, this is a perfect choice if you are taking a group of hungry kids out to eat before or after the show.  Or, as was the case of my meeting with Mr. Pope, it’s a great place to get away for a quiet lunch on a weekday.  FullSizeRender

Not on the menu but available to order at a reasonable price is an individual 7-inch pizza ($7-$8).  On our visit I had the Little Italy’s Garden in this single serving pizza.   It was chock full of roasted tomato, chunky mushrooms, and artichoke: a satisfyingly light lunch option.  At a previous visit my brother, 11-year-old nephew and I split the large (16-inch) New Yorker, a pie that was unctuously cheesy and meaty.

My recommendation:  Get out and see The Giver at the Sioux Empire Community Theatre.  Share the experience with a youngster; and afterward, hoof it over to A Taste of the Big Apple for some delicious pizza.  The kid will thank you for it.

A Taste of the Big Apple
600 North Main Ave
605.339.2400
Hours:
Mon – Sat, 11am-2pm & 5pm-9pm
Sun, 4pm-8pm
Patio Seating: Lots
Vegetarian: Yes
Beer/Wine: Yes & Yes
Parking: Street

REVIEW: The Giver; A Chilling Tale of Conformity Keeps You on Edge of Seat!

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By Maxine Houlihan – Follow @MaxineHoulihan

Imagine living in a colorless world where there is no passion, no restlessness, no creativity.  As a person who feels her emotions, often in their extremes, I would never survive.  It is the sensory input, the variety, the reactionary feedback that inspires us to re-invent our future to accommodate change.  But, what if there was no diversity, and we were fiercely prohibited from even thinking about innovation?  What if we were, for all eternity, mandated to “sameness”?  Would we rebel?  Would we comply for the sake of tradition?

These are the questions Lois Lowry poses in her novel “The Giver”, which has been adapted for the stage by Dramatic Publishing Company.  This chilling tale of a suppressed community has been given life by the Sioux Empire Community Theatre, whose actors are ready to mesmerize you on the stage of the Anne Zabel Theatre at the Orpheum.

We are introduced to this nameless community by two identical announcers who pace like sentinels as they watch their human charges, declaring rules in a tin-can tandem that sent a tingle up my spine.  They inspired thoughts of Mr. Spock and his logical monotone; Siri, as she tells me to take the next exit; even Austin Powers’ Fembots, but without the sex appeal.  Karrisa Kummer and Elaina Wegleitner never broke character and I found myself unable to look them in the eye as they passed.

We enter the story as Jonas, a boy of eleven who has no last name, paces anxiously, stressing about the upcoming ceremony where he will give up his childhood and be assigned a lifelong vocation. Outside of his home he is only referred to as “Number Nineteen” of “The Elevens”.  Although they have been assimilated into the culture, Jonas’ family displays a contrasting bit of empathy, but insists that he do as all have done before him.  He and his friends brood over what assignments they will receive, as not all are desirable.

Fast forward to the “Ceremony of  Twelves”, where Jonas’ friends are given ordinary jobs, but Jonas is assigned the title of Receiver of Memories.  This is a revered position that he does not understand, and it’s profound responsibility has the potential to isolate him from life, as he has known it.

Jonas is soon introduced to The Giver, a brooding man who seems vexed with the idea of transmitting all of the world’s memories into Jonas.  You see, Jonas will be the Library of Alexandria, in human form.  Throughout the show I was hypnotized by Jay Wickre as The Giver.  He portrayed true empathy and despair through his movements and facial expressions, but, above all, I was transfixed by his eyes.  They were piercing and emotive and I couldn’t look away.

imagesAs Jonas receives memory after memory, he becomes overwhelmed.  He begins to see the community in a new light; and not a good one. His family and friends don’t understand what he is going through, and he feels support only from The Giver. He questions why the “sameness” is necessary, and is told that it is for the good of the people.  There is a day, a scale-tipping day, when Jonas receives a shocking revelation about his family, and he can no longer accept the status quo.  This twelve-year-old boy must now make a choice that could put him on a perilous new path through the unknown.

This production kept me on the edge of my seat all evening.  Director Andy Heller clearly had the creative vision to assemble a great cast and keep them focused.  What really stood out for me was the talent of the children.  Young Robert Baker, as Jonas, had reams of lines to memorize and he delivered them all with just the right amount of emotion.  I noticed that, the first time he laughed in character, he chose a cackling tone that clearly demonstrated his character’s lack of experience with joy.  Jonas did not know how to laugh.  Noah Bunger was moving as Asher, clearly displaying his angst about life as a “Twelve”.   Olivia Gordon’s Fiona infused her character with a bit more contentment than the others.  It made sense for a young girl who is okay with her world and satisfied with her job.  Cast as little sister Lilly, Cassidy Jennings was adorable in braids and bows, carrying around a stuffed elephant that her character would never have seen in real life.  She successfully portrayed the rebellious nature of a younger child, who is sometimes grumpy, regardless of what her elders say.  Alex Vasquez and Jessica Tebben, who played Jonas’ parents, allowed their characters to display some emotion and empathy for their children.  It showed an adherence to the rules in public, but some parental love within the home.  Cheryl Matthews was pompous, forceful  and condescending as the Chief Elder. It was spot on; she scared me.  Last, but not least was Johanna Merrill as Rosemary, whose story we learn mostly through dialogue.  We don’t see much of her, but, when we do, the sorrow is raw on her face.

The Zabel Theatre was arranged with the stage on one end, set pieces on the floor, and a U-shaped audience surrounding it.  It was easy to see the action from any seat in the house.  Sound effects successfully brought in a sensory effect, and a screen on the stage allowed us to enter Jonas’ mind when he was thinking.

This production of “The Giver” clearly stayed true to the themes in the book. I did not know what to expect, as I have never read it, but this cast drew me in and didn’t let go.  The show runs the next two weekends and can be seen at a very reasonable price. With a running time of just over an hour and no intermission,  I would recommend it for anyone over the age of ten. I think younger kids might struggle with the concept and get fidgety.  See the show, then go get coffee and dessert and talk about it!  

 The Giver runs March 10 – 20, 2016. Thurs., Fri. & Sat. at 7 p.m. and Sat. & Sun. at 2 p.m.