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February 20, 2014

Children's theater brings fairy tales to life this weekend

It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

The narrator and the stagehand can’t agree on anything. The stagehand accuses the narrator of casting her niece in the star role because she’s family, while the narrator shouts at the stagehand to get off the stage and out of her sight.

But it’s all in the script for the Junior Civic Theater cast putting on “Little Red and the Riding Hoods” this weekend on a stage at the Logansport Mall community room.

Starring a group of third- through seventh-graders from around Cass County, the play tells two versions of the traditional fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” — one told by the pompous narrator with the help of some miserable extras reduced to portraying trees, and the other envisioned by the stagehand, who wants to cast a talented actress — not the narrator’s niece — as Little Red, leader of a motorcycle gang known as The Riding Hoods.

“It’s hilarious. ... It really is a story in a story,” the director Pat Buchanan said. Longtime executive director of Junior Civic Theater, Buchanan is heading up production of “Little Red” and another fairy tale retold, “Poultry in Motion,” on Saturday and Sunday.

The characters in “Little Red” aren’t quite what you’d expect. A boy dressed in green, carrying a longbow, strolls across the stage early in the play. And the wolf — who’s sometimes a bespectacled nerd, sometimes the leader of a rival motorcycle gang — can’t seem to remember that there aren’t any pigs involved in the story.

“I still sit down here and I chuckle,” Buchanan said, even though she knows exactly what punchlines are coming up.

“Poultry in Motion” gets a little mixed up in its storytelling, too, blending the stories of Chicken Little’s lament “the sky is falling!” and the Little Red Hen’s complaint that her feather-brained friends won’t help her make her bread.

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