Friday, July 20, 2001

Children evolving into thespians

Kids rehearse first musical

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

[photo] Matt Neal, playing the mayor, points at Justin Eno, playing Sigfried, as Dan Davidson, playing Peter the Piper, watches during rehearsal.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        WEST CHESTER TWP. — One moment, they're just a group of kids, lounging and chatting. At a word from their director, they become a disciplined ensemble of actors, ready for rehearsal.

        That transformation is taking place every evening this week at Keehner Park Amphitheater as Thespis Theatricals prepares for its production of The Magical Pied Piper. It's the community theater group's first children's musical, and has benefited from the efforts of many.

        “Not only is it a production for kids, but I have kids learning theater production as well,” said director Donna Roth. “We have a junior director, a junior publicist and a junior lighting technician, who's 7 years old. It's one great team.“

   What: The Magical Pied Piper.
   When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and July 26 and 27.
   Where: Keehner Park Amphitheater, Barret Road, West Chester.
   Admission: $6.
   Information: 321-6580,
        The Pied Piper cast numbers nearly 40 and ranges in age from 6 to 18. There's the piper, of course, and his fairy muse. There are dancing rats and crafty cats. There are pompous village officials. Honing the one-hour production has required more than two months of rehearsals, including a month's worth of vocal work at Liberty Elementary School.

        “The support from the schools, especially in terms of rehearsal space, has been terrific,” said Ms. Roth.

        A group of about 20 adult volunteers has steered the production and nurtured the talents of the cast and technical crew. Ms. Roth said that the key to a successful production is to make sure that the actors understand the technical needs of the play, and that the crew understands what the actors need.

        Thespis Theatricals is about 5 years old, one of several grass-roots arts organizations that is knitting this sprawling township into a community. Ms. Roth said that Thespis tries to present three shows each year, one of which is an evening of one-act plays.

        “We try to do at least one show each year for children,” added Shelley Goldman, a parent volunteer.

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