HCLT 50 years

Charlotte's Web opens to sold out house!

 Don't miss the opportunity to see this wonderful show! Ticket sales are brisk, and may very well sell out for other performances. Charlotte's Web continues tonight, Nov. 22, tomorrow afternoon at 3:00, and then next weekend, November 28, 29, and 30 Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30, Saturday morning at 10 AM (with character lunch following that performance) and ending on Sunday afternoon at 3:00. 

CW Fair        CW sheep and lamb 

CW Wilbur Fern

                                   Photo by David Conner

Charlotte’s Web 

                                                                                 By Greg Donner 

Charlottes Web cast

               Very few things in the world can lay claim to being the best, the brightest, or the most loved of its genre; but there is one children’s book that can claim the title with no argument from anyone. E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” is by far the undisputed ruler of children’s literature. It has no peers in its popularity over time and the place it holds in the hearts or children and those who were children long ago. The story of Wilbur, a special little pig, and his friend Charlotte the spider has lived in the hearts of readers for decades and will continue to do so for many more.

                The members of the Halifax County Little Theatre recognize the power of the story so much that they have decided to do a revival of the play version as the opening production of their 2014-2015 season, “A Season Worth Winning.”  They last performed the tale ten years ago and decided that there is a whole new generation of youngsters and their parents who would love the live production of their favorite novel.

                Erin Thackston has taken the lead as the show’s director and is learning the ropes as she works with Becky Donner to develop the production for opening night. She says, “I feel a great responsibility to our audiences to present this timeless classic which appeals to such a large audience. It was my favorite as a child and the first chapter book I read to my children.”  The high esteem which the book is held puts a lot of pressure on the whole cast and crew to make the live performance a real theatre experience.

                The play is adapted by Joseph Robinette and features all of White’s memorable characters and locales from the birth on the Arable farm to the prize winning moment of Wilbur’s ultimate triumph at the county fair. 

The large cast features adults and children who fill roles ranging from a very large pig to the smallest of spiders, with dozens of sizes in between.    HCLT newcomer Kasey Rising plays the kind spider Charlotte, who must find a way to save Wilbur from becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Lorien Reeves is tackling the role of Wilbur with much aplomb for an actress so young. 

            Wilbur and Charlotte get a lot of support along the way from a cadre of barnyard regulars and of course Fern, the young girl who saved Wilbur from being sacrificed at birth. Audiences will be thrilled from start to finish by the faithful representation of the original material and the cast’s work to create the individual characters from the book.

                Joining Thackston and Donner as part of the creative team are Pat Crew as choreographer and Ginny Bogart as Costume Designer.   In addition, there is a large group of support personnel from Andy Rice as producer to set builders, makeup artists and painters. There are as many people working behind the scenes as there are on stage for such a grand undertaking, and everyone backstage is as committed to the success of the show as the performers. This is truly a labor of love.

                Audiences have a treat in store on opening night when they can join Fern, the Arables and Zuckermans, Wilbur, Charlotte, Templeton, and all of their barnyard family for a night of memory-making. Parents will want to be sure that their children get to experience this classic story live and share a lasting memory of a special family event.

         But let’s be honest.  ”Charlotte’s Web” isn’t just for children.  Adults can appreciate the story on a whole different level about the sacrifices true friends make for one another.  No one should be left out of the joy of the friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte.

                The play opens at the Prizery Theatre at 7:30 on Friday, November 21. There are eight public performances planned, including two 10:00 a.m. shows on November 22 and 29, and two Sunday matinees on November 23 and 30. There will also be a special lunch for children with the cast members after the Saturday morning show on Nov. 29.

           Season brochures for Little Theatre can be found at the Prizery, both libraries, and the visitor’s center.  Patrons can call the box office at 572-8339, visit the Prizery to purchase tickets, or go online at www.prizery.com. Make plans early for the best seats and to be a part of this special event. Your children, or the child in you, will thank you for it.

 

  Charlotte's Web Cast is in rehearsal for November 21 opening night!

HCLT 2014 Season Directors 1

 

Love Is in The Air

Think of all the things that make a musical great:  giant dance numbers, memorable songs, positive social values and of course a bit of romance. Halifax County Little Theatre’s latest production has them all, especially the romance. The play is a Virginia premiere of “The Man Who Saved Christmas” by Ron Lytle. 

The story is based loosely on a real incident during World War I when the government attempted to stop toy production for Christmas to support the war effort. The story’s hero is Johnny, a newspaperman, who starts out trying to help the beleaguered toy maker and of course finds romance with the company secretary, Alice.

The couple has to overcome some obstacles on the way to true love, but that only makes the story more interesting. Johnny and Alice are played by real life husband and wife Scott and Tasha Dyer. They are enjoying the unique opportunity to share some fun time on stage in these lead roles.

 Tasha has been on the Little Theatre stage before, appearing in “A Christmas Carol.” This is a much bigger role, and she encouraged Scott to join her in auditions after she read an article saying it called for, “a charming man and a sassy woman.” Tasha said she called Scott and said, “We have to try this!” 

Since being cast in the leads, both say it has been nothing but enjoyment. They add, “The whole cast is wonderful throughout, and the big musical numbers are going to be the hit of the show.” Tasha also adds, “The best part is the chance to pretend to be someone else for a little while. It is just fun to make believe.”

As with most love stories, there has to be a foil to make the path difficult. This part falls to Jeremy Duffer, who plays the toy company foreman who is also attracted to the boss’s secretary. 

Duffer said, “It is a very different part than I have had before. I was thinking it would be nice to audition for the hero, but the villain is even more challenging.” 

Duffer’s previous stage appearances include last year’s “Ton Sawyer” and “How I Became a Pirate.” Being the villain not only gives Duffer a chance to expand his resume, but it provides him with one of the biggest songs in the show as he battles for Alice. The best part is that the scene allows him to display his comic side as well as his singing talent.

Duffer also praises his fellow actors and directors. 

He said, “I think it is wonderful that we get to be one of the first groups to do this play. I think the audiences will really like it.”

He also appreciates that the play has songs that will appeal to a large audience. 

He added, “I can’t wait for opening night to show off all that we have done.”

Little Theatre has found a very special play for their audiences, and Director Kristin Berry and people who have seen rehearsals are most enthusiastic about the play, the music and the cast. 

Tasha, Scott and Jeremy are major players in the show, and the rest of the cast is showing the same level of talent. The forecast is for some great entertainment on The Prizery stage. 

“The Man Who Saved Christmas” is a great holiday story, a romantic comedy and toe tapping musical. Make plans to attend and bring the whole family. The show opens at 7:30 on Nov. 15 and has additional performances at the same time on Nov. 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Two matinee shows are planned at 3 p.m. on Nov. 17 and 24. 

Season tickets for the entire Little Theatre season or tickets for this show are available from The Prizery box office or by calling 572-8339. 

The Man Who Saved Christmas

Little Theatre’s “The Man Who Saved Christmas”

By Becky Donner

                “Let’s go, people!  We’ve only sixty days till Christmas, so let’s get a move on!”  The opening lines of Ron Lytle’s ‘new old-fashioned’ holiday musical sound as if they are talking about those of us in the present time, but the time of this show is 1919, when America was involved in World War I.  Halifax County Little Theatre’s fall musical tells a wonderful tale of hardship and love, of hope and determination.  In addition, Little Theatre is proud to be selected as the presenter of the Virginia premiere of this show. 

                Director Kristin Berry and Musical Director Cheri Blackwell have been hard at work themselves for the past two months with their cast of “incredible vocal talent,” according to Berry.  “We’re so excited to put some new faces on stage, or faces audiences haven’t seen in a long time.  And this show is just so perfect for the holiday season.”

                The story is based loosely on some actual events during World War I, when the government tried to cancel toy production in favor of arms manufacturing.  Obviously, there would have been a lot of disappointed boys and girls.  Toy factory owner A.C. Gilbert is determined to find a way to lobby Washington in order to save his company as well as Christmas. 

                Add some precocious children, a newspaper reporter determined to find a story, a secretary wanting to protect her job and her emotions, a conniving office worker, and some Washingtonians and toy factory workers, and it all adds up to a musical comedy with just the right amount of romance, suspense, comedy, and intrigue. 

                The show opens November 15 and runs through Saturday, November 30, at The Prizery.  In addition to the cast of twenty-some will be a live musical ensemble composed of local music students and adults.  The music has been reorchestrated just this fall by the composer, and Little Theatre has received the music almost literally “hot off the press!” 

                Playing toy manufacturer A.C. Gilbert is James Abbott, known locally for the beautiful sound of his voice.  Victoria Palmer, new to Little Theatre, will portray his wife, Mary.  They are taking care of their niece, Ellen, while her father is off at war.  Gracie Berneche has been chosen to portray Ellen, and she and her friends play a pivotal role in exposing who is the bad guy and who is the good guy. 

                Creating the children’s roles are Easton Berry, Victoria Montes-Bradley, Jordan Carr, Mary McLaughlin, and Katherine White.  Secretary to Mr. Gilbert is Tasha Dyer, and the determined reporter is played by her real-life husband, Scott.  The sparks will fly between those two characters, compounded by the jealous office worker, portrayed by Jeremy Duffer.

                Costume guru Ginny Bogart has been researching clothing styles of the war period, choreographer Pat Crew has been teaching dance steps to the ensemble, and Marshall Slayton and his crew of hard working men and women are already building and painting set pieces.  Producer Andy Rice is handling all the technicalities of the show, and a whole lot of other people are coming together to make the show a success. 

                Tickets are already on sale at The Prizery (572-8339), and season brochures are also available there and at the local libraries for Little Theatre’s entire season.  For more information about the season or to request a brochure be mailed to you, contact Becky Donner at 572-2139. 

                But especially, make plans to see “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”  It is sure to become a new holiday classic.   

Elvis Has Left The Building

HCLT cast Elvis Has Left the Building

Elvis lovers, comedy lovers, or anyone looking for a fun night out should make plans to attend Little Theatre's winter comedy, Elvis Has Left the Building.  Rehearsals have been underway for several weeks now, and the show is taking shape for a February opening.  Pictured standing are Kenny Carr, Greg Donner, and Jonny Berry.  Seated are Erin Thackson, Cyndi Overby, and Linda Shepperd, with a little replica of the King himself! Tickets are currently on sale at The Prizery at 572-8339.

Rehearsals Are Underway

Rehearsals are well underway for Halifax County Little Theatre’s winter comedy “Elvis Has Left the Building.”  Opening in mid-February, the comedy is based on a real event that happened in 1970 when Elvis disappeared for a few days, and no one knew where he was.   Playwrights Virginia Cate and Duke Ernsberger have created a comic interpretation of how the disappearance may have affected those around him.

Director Becky Donner has assembled a cast with much experience in comedy, and they are gearing up to delight audiences with what happened to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.   Cyndi Overby has taken on the role of stage manager and is keeping track of everyone’s movements and making lists and checking them twice.  Melissa Peacock is producing the show and making sure all the production jobs are moving along as needed.

Heading up the cast is Greg Donner as “The Colonel,” Elvis’s manager Tom Parker.  This wheeler-dealer is most desperate to find his “cash cow,” as his living depends on promoting Elvis.  And the Colonel has his own personal problem which can only be solved by locating the King.  But Elvis is not answering the Colonel’s phone calls.

Linda Shepperd will portray Trudy, the Colonel’s German secretary.  Trudy is a no-nonsense type who understands her boss and runs his office with an iron fist.  Linda’s acting gift is definitely comedy, and she knows how to create memorable characters.  Her Trudy will clearly entertain audiences. If local people find Linda muttering German phrases around town, they will understand why!

The Colonel surrounds himself with “Yes” men, and one of those is the office lackey Roscoe, played to perfection by Jonny Berry.  Roscoe just wants to please everyone and thinks that Elvis is the most important American ever, so when the Colonel asks Roscoe’s help in locating Elvis, Roscoe is quick to assist.  Audiences won’t want to miss Berry’s creation of this memorable quirky character.  What Roscoe is willing to do to help Elvis out will leave the audience laughing until tears roll.

The Colonel’s other friend is Candy, a man he trusts to help him find Elvis.  Kenny Carr will play Candy, a guy the Colonel helped out earlier in his life and who now owes the Colonel a favor.  Candy gets trapped into helping the Colonel out also, and the interaction of Candy and Roscoe turn the comedy into high action.

Adding a little intrigue to the plot is the snooping reporter Jill Tanner, who is trying to find a good story for her paper, and she senses something is happening concerning Elvis that she wants to track down.  Jill Tanner, described by the Colonel as “The Mouth of Memphis,” will be brought to life by Erin Thackston.  The Colonel wants to hide the fact that he doesn’t know where the King is, and Tanner wants to get the scoop she senses is happening around the Colonel’s office.  Thackston brings the intensity needed to the hard-driving reporter.

Elvis might have “left the building,” but patrons won’t leave without a little Elvis, rest assured!

Where is Elvis, and what will the Colonel do to create one?  Plan to purchase your ticket early to find out as this show promises to be a big hit.  The comedy runs Friday and Saturday evenings, February 15 and 16, at 7:30, and Sunday afternoon at 3:00.  The show then continues the next weekend on Thursday through Saturday nights at 7:30.

Tickets are on sale now at The Prizery or by calling 572-8339 or by going to www.hclt.org.  Get a group together and come out for a winter’s night of fun.  HAS Elvis left the building?  Come see for yourself!

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