February 20, 2014

Children's theater brings fairy tales to life this weekend

by Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune

---- — 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.

Fiona Davis, a 10-year-old student at Franklin Elementary, is glad to play Henny Penny in “Poultry in Motion” — and is happy she doesn’t have any other parts to distract her.

It’s her first time in a Junior Civic Theater production, she said, and the short play is just enough to whet her appetite without overwhelming her.

She’s in good company. Just eight of the 20 children involved in “Little Red” and “Poultry in Motion” have appeared in a Junior Civic Theater production before, Buchanan said.

“I’m also glad I didn’t get put in both, like some people,” Fiona added. Her 39 lines are enough to memorize.

But her mother is no stranger to Junior Civic Theater. Andrea Davis was involved in the organization as a child, starting with “The King and I” in the early 1990s, she said.

“I was in JCT for many, many years, so it’s neat to see her do this,” Davis said.

Children in both plays have been fighting the weather to attend enough rehearsals before opening night Saturday. It’s been the biggest challenge the organization has faced during the production, Buchanan said.

“We’ve got kids from out around Lewis Cass, Pioneer, and just out around here in the country,” she explained.

Performances of “Little Red and the Riding Hoods” and “Poultry in Motion” are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Logansport Mall community room. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME


Cast members 'Little Red and the Riding Hoods' Narrator -- Piper Nacke Stagehand -- Scarlett Gonzalez Little Red Riding Hood -- Rebecca Pawlowski Hoods/Forest -- Nevaeh Gordon, Jenna Roeske, Kaitlin Weldy, Kyah Preston, Lily Walthery, Ian Snoeberger and Emma Ehle Mother -- Diana Pearson Little Red -- Sarah Pawlowski Robin Hood -- Jerett Shupperd Wolf -- Xavier Gordon Granny -- Claire Miller Fairy Godsister 1 -- Emily Harmon Fairy Godsister 2 -- Jordan Henry 'Poultry in Motion' Foxy Loxy -- Ian Snoeberger Chicken Little -- Scarlett Gonzalez Henny Penny -- Fiona Davis Cocky Locky -- Xavier Gordon Little Red Hen -- Sarah Pawlowski Ducky Lucky -- Nellie Walthery Goosey Lucy -- Emma Ehle Mallard Drake -- Jerett Shupperd Zander Gander -- Lily Walthery Tori Turkey -- Claire Miller Tina Turkey -- Rebecca Pawlowski