If the widely held belief that "catching them early can pay dividends in the future" needs confirmation, look no further than the cast for Central Lakes College's latest children's theater production.
Six of the seven cast members for "Stories, Songs and Fables 2001" are under 17, and all are CLC stage veterans, said Director Dennis Lamberson.
"I've been working with all of these kids since they were very young children," Lamberson said in an interview this week. "They've all been in numerous previous productions, and most have more stage experience than many of the adults cast for our shows each year."
At 11, Shane Lueck of Brainerd is the youngest person cast for "Stories," a medley of skits based on popular children's fairy tales.
Kadee Jo Anderson (first row, left), Shane Lueck, Brent Olsen, Christine Anne Wegen (second row, left), Randee Erickson and JoAnna Larson appeared in a scene from "Stories, Songs and Fables 2001." The play opens Tuesday.
It will run every Tuesday and Thursday from June 26 to July 19 in the Dryden Theatre. Show time is 11 a.m. Tickets are $3.
The only adult in the cast is Kirstin Hamilton of Brainerd, who at twentysomething is also a longtime CLC community education theater player, Lamberson said.
Others in the cast include Joanna Larson of Crosslake, Kadee Jo Anderson of Crosby, and Randee Erickson and Brent Olsen of Baxter.
Even the production's stage manager, high school senior Jill Erickson, is a CLC Theatre veteran who first appeared on stage in "Oklahoma" as a 7-year-old, Lamberson said.
If anything, the casting for "Stories" underscores the CLC Theatre Department's purpose in targeting productions for young children.
"It's a good way to introduce them to theater" and create a lifelong interest in the stage, the director said. "In fact, the productions can get them excited not only about the theater, but also about reading."
This is particularly true with "Stories, Songs and Fables," which encourages the young audience to search out the written version of the fairy tales, fables and popular children's fiction spotlighted in the production, he said.
Lamberson and others in the department have scripted 10 separate skits, all requiring audience participation to fill out the cast.
The show will change with each performance, but each will be punctuated with gags, games, songs and prizes, Lamberson said.
"Stories" is targeted for "preschoolers on up," the director said, but "the parents and adults who accompany them have as much fun as the kids."
With its 11 a.m. curtain call, the summer children's show offers a unique attraction for area day-care centers, birthday parties and family outings, Lamberson said.
The CLC Theatre Department's summer season began this week with "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," a full-length production that runs through July 1 in the John Chalberg Theatre.
"Smoke on the Mountain," a gospel-bluegrass comedy-variety show, opens July 5, as does the improvisational comedy show "Life, Version 2.0: A User's Guide."
"Don't Dress for Dinner," a farce by Marc Camoletti, will play July 18-29.
For more information and tickets, contact the CLC box office at 855-8199 or 800-933-0346.
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