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July 6, 2022

Funny Papers Again Column | ‘Under the Sea’ With Sol T

In last week’s column I mentioned having a “senior moment” when admitting I had lost the device that contained not only a column partially written, but all of my previous columns, which goes back quite a few weeks now. A few weeks back I found a missing key in a small trash bin next to my writing table, how it got there remains a mystery, but I was dumping that same small receptacle into a large trash bag a few days ago and the USB device fell out on the floor. Déjà vu, but still no answer to how both found their way into a trash bin. But I digress…

I do not know exactly how many years Sol Treasures has been producing children’s musicals, nor the number of shows they have brought to the Robert Stanton Theater stage, but I do know they sure as heck have gotten good at it. Witness to that is their recent presentations of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”; a show this writer found so involved only two viewings would satisfy my theatrical cravings.

The story is not one of which I was acquainted beyond knowing it was an animated feature some years ago whose main character’s name is often used in crossword puzzles (Ariel is a short name that uses three vowels, crossword builders love those). Also, last year at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City, my daughter, granddaughter and I attended a “Little Mermaid” ballet, which of course has no dialogue or lyrics, but the dance told the story, which theme is as old as life: a love story.

This column should not be construed as a theater review. I have read countless critiques of shows, stage or film, a couple where I was a cast member, and never have I read one giving equal space to a whole production, so I’m not willing to fall into that category. What is offered here are some observations that made impression enough to warrant mentioning.

I know I am not alone in agreeing one of the aspects that made this production such a success was a young cast with solid acting resumes; experience on stage many of them gained in past Sol Treasures productions. When these student thespians were coupled with veteran adult actors, the outcome was a lively, colorful undersea journey filled with exotic characters caught up in the conflict between two seemingly unmatchable lovers and their respective camps. I could not help but be impressed with these young performers when scenes involved their getting face-to-face, one-on-one with actors who have been around quite some time and have some real chops. Whether dialogue or song or choreography, these adolescent thespians were right there with the veterans.

I mentioned the limitations of a review, and now we get to a big one: all cast and crew members cannot be mentioned due to space limitations and a production cannot happen unless every name on the program listed as cast and crew work together to make it happen. And parents play a major part in children’s musicals in providing the ways and means for their children to maintain an eight-week rehearsal schedule. Now, with that said, I want to offer some brief comments about some players and crew; and will use only their first names. (If you want to know last names, I suggest you attend their next production.)

Barbara and her crew of Eileen, Mitzi, Catherine, Sarah, Debbie, Kelli and Cindi gave us costuming out of this world, at least the earthly part; an array of colorful undersea creatures added an element to the whole production that even without any sound, it would have been a pleasure to experience. Gideon, Shad, Michael, Colleen, James, Ryland and Dane made Lanny’s set design and Brenda’s artwork a seamless part of the production, where set changes were executed swimmingly, pun intended.

John did the music, so it was spot on, while Jamie did the sound and Jeff and Austin set the lights. Annie ran the lobby as Sonia sold tickets out the window. The whole shebang was directed by Jeff. That left the most demanding job of any production, Stage Manager, whose job is to marshal the whole cast and crew and keep the show on track. With this production, Liz scored a big hit for the troupe and the town.

I see now I am going to run out of space before giving justice to all the young performers, which is unfortunate because they all deserve mention; many really impressed me, and I want to note them: Gabriela, Victoria, Brenna, Gillian, Danielle and Rebecca made up an ensemble that added much to the production, one song so 1950-ish it even included the lyric “shoop.” According to the program, it was Danielle’s first appearance in a musical, which was a brave decision on her part, and she did a wonderful job. Tabitha did anything but flounder in the role; Maya and Paula were a pleasant menacing duo; Morgan and Zechariah were winds that blew true, while Jose in his first role ever piloted his scenes with confidence.

Ensemble actors Zeke, Belinda and Angelique switched roles and costumes with convincing regularity; and no matter what else was happening onstage, my eyes were always drawn to Hannah who seems to play all manner of characters with flair. And, as this is the place for actors accolades it should be said that, as is customary, those adults in the show known to South County (that would be Andrew, Jamie, Jeff, Catherine and Barbara) entertained with the ease of experience and were joined by a new-to-us threesome: Melissa and Sam in lead roles, plus Jenny who gave us a crabby little character not to be forgotten.

According to my calendar, the next company to bring a production to the Robert Stanton stage is the Drama Club of KCHS on April 29-30 and May 1, looking forward to it.

Take care. Peace.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist
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