Storybook characters come alive this Thursday and Friday

Jarrod Schoenecker
The cast of "The Enchanted Bookshop."

Jarrod Schoenecker photo

The cast of “The Enchanted Bookshop” play, from the left, in the front row are Weston Dietz, Sam Tiegen, Aubrey Kuchinski, Royce Fitzgerald, Harper Brockway, Alice Harmeier, Zoe Lien-Garcia, Nora Christensen, Cailyn Meadows and Leo Kukacka; and in the back row are Kaelyn Barta, Vincent Carpenter, Everleigh Moen, Myla Harmon, Johanna Zasoski, Lila Wallskog, Carolyn Houn, Kayla Hunt, Gavin Danielson, Lincoln Mecus and Paul Sexton. 

“The Enchanted Bookshop,” by Todd Wallinger, will have performances at the high school’s performing arts center at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, and Friday, May 3.

A well-rehearsed cast of 4th through 6th grade children are ready to make the bookstore characters of Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Dorothy Gale, Pollyanna, Tom Sawyer and more come to life — at least while the bookstore keeper is not around.

For many of the children, it is their first time performing in a play. Vincent Carpenter, a fifth-grader, said, “The problem is they don’t usually ask fifth-graders to do this.” He was excited when he saw the opportunity come up, saying “It’s fun. I wish they did more!” Carpenter plays the role of Officer Ketchup in the play.

The fifth-grader, Kayla Hunt, plays the role of the Wicked Witch. She described her first role acting, “I’m like mean and nice.” She enjoys performing on stage and the friends she makes too.

“My favorite part is the ending, when all the characters are on stage,” said fifth-grader Myla Harmon. This is Harmon’s second show and she plays two roles — Hop Along Cassidy and the Lady in Red.

Director Elise Lundeen says, “I wanted to give 4th - 6th graders the opportunity to become part of TCU Drama and build a middle school program. They need to build their skills since they immediately make the jump to high school theatre programming — musical, one act and spring play — right away in high school. It's a good starter program to learn the ins and outs of the stage and meet other students from the other two buildings and make connections so auditioning and becoming involved in theatre won't seem so scary.”

TCU Community Education offered her the space to try this program and obtained a grant from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council for it.

It was very evident in the technical rehearsal observed earlier this week that theater is of great interest to children of this age and that they are very capable as well. Lines were well rehearsed and all of them knew their place in the cast well. It made it very entertaining to watch.

Lundeen said, “The kids are incredibly talented and are learning so much - I expect great things!”

Dave Schultz is the technical director, Wes Dietz is a technical intern, and Kaelyn Barta is the sound designer for the show.

If you would like to see “The Enchanted Bookshop,” tickets will be available at the door for $5 and children ages 3 and under are free.

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