If the title of the upcoming SPROUTS children's theater performance doesn't draw a crowd to the Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St., the talented young cast lineup is sure to garner attention.
"Puss in Boots" will be performed by actors ages 10 to 16, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 and 14 and 2 p.m. Jan. 15 at the CTL.
According to director Gretchen Bower, the students represent nine local schools.
“Puss in Boots” will be performed by actors ages 10 to 16, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 and 14 and 2 p.m. Jan. 15 at the CTL. For more information about the upcoming SPROUTS production, “Puss in Boots,” visit ctlnet.org. Tickets are $8 per person or $25 for four.
Despite the popularity of the Dreamworks animated feature of the same name, Bower said the two productions bear no similarities, other than the storyline involving a very clever cat named Puss in Boots.
"We are doing a delightful re-telling of a tale written at the end of the 1600s by Charles Perrault," she said. "It is a French fairy tale about a cat, in boots, who uses trickery to gain power, wealth and the hand of a princess in marriage for his penniless and low-born master."
As director of the show, Bower said it is her job to make sure her vision of the script is portrayed on stage, that all components of the show are in place and that everyone is growing because of the experience.
"I am the link between the performance and audience," she said. "I need to keep in mind the audience that will see the production. I have a responsibility to the play and to my actors. This includes enlightening them not only about the world of the play - 17th century France - but about working together as a team, explaining things they need to know about the process of putting on our show and guiding them through it."
Bower said that the auditions were the most crucial yet stressful component of the production. Auditions for "Puss in Boots" were difficult because of the large number of eager young people who tried out for a limited number of parts. The cast, however, she said, is the best part about directing the show.
"The love these children have for acting, the learning that has taken place, the confidence they have gained in themselves and the teamwork they have developed, bring our production to life," Bower said.
Cast members include Mitchell Young, sixth grade, McCall Middle School, Montoursville, who has taken on the challenging role of Puss in Boots, and Rakim Wright, seventh grade, Curtin Middle School, who plays the role of the penniless master, Tom, whose sisters include Katie Keith and Alliana Myers. Emily Kilheeney portrays the Countess, with Sydney Powell as her daughter; and Spencer Mill takes on the Great Ogre. Other actors include Ivy Waldron, Brian and Gabe McKeon, Claire Mitchell and Aurora Schemery, and the royal family include Jarrod Houseknecht, Ally Lax and Mackenzie Shionko as Princess Pam.
Bower said she is fortunate to have talented volunteers who help behind the scenes, including CTL's technical directors, Ed Richards, Bill Dando and her husband, Tim, as well as Mary Ann Krauser, stage manager, and Deb Buckman, the prop mistress. Without the help of these people, Bower said the music and set pieces wouldn't be as easy to identify.
"Using the illustrations of Fred Marcellino's interpretation of 'Puss in Boots' in his award-winning book as our inspiration, our set and costumes will suggest the French countryside during the time of Louis XIV, in the late 1690s, taking our audience and the cleverest cat in the kingdom back to his roots," Bower said. "Lighting, special effects, music and set pieces will all help identify our scenes from the countryside to the Great Ogre's castle courtyard."
Bower said she became hooked on the theater at a young age after being cast as "The Queen of Hearts" in a second-grade play. She became involved with CTL in 1991 and has since worked backstage in costuming, wardrobe, gathering and running props, stage managing and directing. Recent SPROUTS productions have included "Treasure Island," "Return to Treasure Island," "The Sword in the Stone" and "Robin Hood: The Quest for Piper's Green."
The retired elementary school teacher has always enjoyed working with young people.
"When young people take the stage we are all taken somewhere important - a journal of personal, social or ethical discovery, a journey that is an important one and one well-worth taking," she said. "It has been a pleasure as well as an honor to work with this wonderful, talented group of actors and actresses. Their enthusiasm, passion and creativity are the energy that will charm and delight any audience, young and old."
For more information about the upcoming SPROUTS production, "Puss in Boots," visit ctl net.org. Tickets are $8 per person or $25 for four.