Carroll troupe puts spirited spin on classic tale

HAVIN' A ROYAL BALL

July 09, 1993|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,Contributing Writer

Everyone is cordially invited to attend the emperor's royal ball.

The Theatre on the Hill Troupe will present a children's production of "The Emperor's New Clothes" at 2 p.m. for the next six Saturdays, through Aug. 14, at Western Maryland College.

The classic story revolves around the emperor who loves clothes to the extent of ignoring everything else in his kingdom. He is desperate to find something "magnificent" to wear to the ball and turns for help to two con men who are masquerading as designers.

The play teaches the moral that "Clothes do not make the man."

The production, based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, is unscripted and improvised. Actors will select children from the audience to perform in the play.

"That's what's really unique about this," said Jean Burgess, the play's director. "We set up the premise that we are a traveling company and we have lost half our cast."

Ms. Burgess has a master's degree in children's theater and creative dramatics. She understands that audience participation contributes to the success of a show such as this.

"It's just as fun for the parents to watch their kids get involved as it is for their kid up on stage," she said.

"We have costumes for them and we put them through a little audition saying their lines nice and loud."

Everyone will get an opportunity to participate in the show because the audience is asked to pantomime and respond to actors' questions. Anything can happen during the audience-actor exchange.

"You have to be able to think on your feet," said Bill Toscano,

who plays the fashion-conscious emperor.

"I get to be as silly as I want to be and nobody seems to mind," he said. "I'm playing the director and I audition the kids before I transform into the emperor."

Marty Burke, a 17-year-old student at North Carroll High School, plays one of the townspeople.

"I'm really excited about Saturday because it will be my first professional acting job," he said.

Marty auditioned for the troupe with schoolmate Mark McDaniels, 16. Both have performed in productions at North Carroll.

"We went and auditioned in Baltimore, and we got a call back here at the college," Mark said. "I've seen many plays here but this is the first that I'm involved in."

The cast enthusiastically acts out the hourlong show, including a chase scene through the theater.

"It requires a lot of energy," said Mr. Toscano.

One of the most energetic workers has been Ms. Burgess' 6-year-old daughter, Amanda Blaugher, who has been acting as an unofficial stage director.

"She's been helping us get dressed, getting props together, helping with sets and filling in for the audience during rehearsal," said Ms. Burgess.

"I just like helping them," Amanda said. "They're nice to me a lot."

The show will be presented on the main stage at Alumni Hall. Tickets are $4 each.

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