Sunday, March 29, 2020
‘Frozen,’ ‘Matilda’-See What St. Thomas Playhouse Has in Store
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Kagen Albright reprised “his role as Gomez Addams from “The Addams Family the Musical” as he sang of unrequited love through “Not Today…I’m dancing on my own. “Not today…a dog with half a bone.”
 
Friday, February 14, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Sara Gorby wasted no teasing the nearly 200 women as they enjoyed a luncheon of lamb lollipops and macaroni and cheese at the Limelight Hotel.

“Everybody in this room is going to want to be part of our August production. But you have to be in fourth through eighth grades,” she said. “And we are extremely honored to be the first in the valley to perform ‘Frozen.’ ”

St. Thomas Playhouse pulled back the curtains on its 19th season Wednesday at its annual Girlfriend Cabaret Luncheon. And it will be a family-themed year with everything from “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” to “Matilda The Musical.”

 
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Rylee Brown was among those who performed “King of New York” from the June 2020 Summer Theater Project “Newsies the Musical.”
 

St. Thomas Playhouse’s production has grown into one of the largest community theaters in the state, said Managing Director Brett Moellenberg.

“Our productions and programs are magical and healing. And they’re about young people finding their voices, triumphing over everything and finding new gifts,” said Gorby.

The upcoming season:

  • “Stone Soup.” This charming play adapted by Andrew Alburger returns to the STP children’s Theater Tour for preschools and other schools in February and March. Last year the tour reached 3,000 viewers.

     
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    Nine-year-old Grace Bloedorn sells a handful of raffle tickets good for baskets boasting sports shop gift cards, ski lessons, gift certificates to Perry’s, Hailey Coffee Company and other restaurants and play and movie tickets to Katrina Cord.
     

    The play revolves around a visitor bringing a stone in a soup pot to a small village that has fallen on hard times. The villagers protest they have nothing to add but eventually learn about sharing and building community.

    A free public performance of the play will be offered at 11 a.m. Sunday, March 8, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley.

  • “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” This play by Roald Dahl will be staged by children participating in Company B’s June camp June 8 through 20.

     
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    Janet Carter, Leslie Mincks, Susan Blair and Robin Leavitt were among those taking part in the luncheon.
     

    It revolves around a young man who is taken on an adventure by a magic peach after his conniving aunt asks him to chop down the peach tree.

  • “Newsies The Musical.” Disney’s “Newsies,” written by the same author who wrote “The Little Mermaid,” follows a charismatic newsboy named Jack who rallies his fellow newsies to strike for their right to earn a buck in turn-of-the-century New York City. It will be staged by the Summer Theater Project for Teens and Young Adults June 17-20.
  • The Summer Performing Arts Conservatory Camp at Camp Perkins will take place June 22-27. This year’s theme: “What a Wonderful World—Our Earth Home.”
  • Disney’s “Frozen, Jr., will be staged by the Company B Summer August Camp Aug. 3-14.

    Based on the 2018 Broadway musical, it depicts Princesses Anna and Elsa discovering their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood amidst a journey fraught with danger.

  • “Matilda The Musical.” Roald Dahl’s musical about a clever courageous 5-year-old girl who has a profound effect on others’ lives, even helping her teacher reclaim her life, will be this year’s Family Main Stage presentation in September.

 
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Dell-Ann Benson and Connie Hoffman get a chuckle out of the programming.
 

“It’s what it’s like to be a grown up from the perspective of a child,” addedGgorby.

R.L. Rowsey performed “If I Were a Rich Man,” a song from last year’s “Fiddler on the Roof,” which was viewed by a thousand people but left many in the community wanting for tickets.

 “I feel like I got the biggest scholarship in the world as I got to play Tevye,” he said, just before leading the audience through the Paddle Up designed to raise $25,000 for scholarships.

The H. Edward Bilkey Memorial Fund has awarded nearly $200,000 in scholarships over the last 13 years, ensuring no child is turned away due to inability to pay. Last year it awarded a record $19,000. The program has seen a rise in diversity both racially and socio-economically, which has led to more need said Moellenberg.

“I love St. Thomas Playhouse because it wraps kids up with love and compassion and care and gives them voices they didn’t know they had,” said Rowsey.

It was no stretch for the women in the room to talk about the productions that their children or grandchildren had worked on together.

“This absolutely sets my heart on fire. I love the energy, the dedication and I really love the opportunity it gives kids, no matter what size or shape they are,” said Robin Leavitt.

“I love watching my granddaughter on stage,” Roselyn Monger said of her granddaughter Paris Himmelman, now in high school. “She never has big parts but it’s still a fun, a thrill to see her up there.”

Rylee Brown, a sophomore at both Wood River High School and Silver Creek High School, got his start on the stage in St. Thomas Playhouse summer camps about six years ago and went on to appear in such productions as “The Addams Family.”

This month he had his first paying job when he joined The Spot’s cast of “Fun Home.”

“It wasn’t easy—we put so much work into it,” he said. “But I felt like a professional actor.”

Brown said his parents took him to see “The Nutcracker” when he was 2 and he was mesmerized. His passion for musical theater was only heightened by the fact that one of his cousins works in musical theater.

“It just fascinated me how people became different characters on stage,” he said. “And the lights, the music, the acting—I got into it so I could do it all. And through it I’ve learned to talk better, portray myself better, become a better person.”

Joel Bejot, the music director for the many of the plays said he loves the way the company’s projects bring together children and adults from different backgrounds to put together something special.

“And, usually, the Company B shows are a Disney show that’s really fun,” he said. “Kids learn about acting, music, singing. They learn to get along with each other. And they learn to take up space, to not be afraid to let their voice be heard.”

WANT TO GET UP ON STAGE?

Auditions for “Matilda the Musical” will be held in late April with rehearsals beginning late July. Auditions for “Newsies the musical” will be held late April and early May with rehearsals beginning mid-May.

 

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