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'Cinderella' comes to life at Capitol Theatre

March 02, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A visitor to the Capitol Theatre Center Monday afternoon might wonder why 74 children braved a snowstorm to stand in a large circle belting out such phrases as:

"I don't like boiled spinach."

"This limousine is far too small."

"Pea pods remind me of aliens."

The answer is simple: The smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd.

The aspiring actors and actresses, accompanied by parents and siblings, turned out to audition for the musical production of "Cinderella" with the Missoula Children's Theatre.

Missoula Children's Theatre employees Reid Reimers and Teralyn Tanner guided the children through various verbal exercises, pausing to confer with each other.

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At one point, they had the children sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in groups of five.

"Now, I want you to say, 'Wow! A pencil!' as if you've been writing with a rock all these years and someone just handed you a pencil," Reimers instructed. The children obeyed, with a variety of inflections and gestures.

Before announcing those who had been chosen, Reimers, of Missoula, Mont., gave the group a pep talk. "You made this disgustingly hard for us. We could have easily cast all of you, if we'd had enough room. Come back next year."

He told them not to think they are not talented if they weren't picked.

"We're looking for really particular things. The fact of theater is that sometimes you don't get picked. I've auditioned 100 times (for various roles) and I've gotten picked 12 times."

Forty-seven actors and actresses were selected to play pumpkins, lords, ladies, stepsisters, a fairy godmother and other characters. Four assistant directors also were named.

Katherine Lippincott, 7, was chosen as a lady, even though she has no acting experience. Katherine said she thought the auditions were "really cool."

Portraying Cinderella will be Rochelle Mays, 13, of Chambersburg. The Chambersburg Area Middle School seventh-grader says she has no acting experience and doesn't know why she was chosen, but was feeling "happy."

The male lead, Rags, will be played by Hugo Sanchez, 14, of Chambersburg. A ninth-grader at Shalom Christian Academy, where he takes a drama class, Hugo has been acting since he was in the third grade. He is currently rehearsing the part of Smike in Charles Dickens' "Nicholas Nickleby" for his school's dinner theater.

Tanner, who has worked in theater in New York, Florida and South Carolina, said that she and Reimers were screening the children for "a loud and clear voice, big and expressive body movements and kids who could listen and follow directions."

The cast will rehearse for four hours each night this week, she said, and give two performances on Saturday.

"The kids don't know it's impossible," she joked. "We teach them their parts the first two days, then we're all together to run through it. It has worked every time, and the company has been in business for 35 years."

Tanner, of Greenville, S.C., has worked for the theater company for two and a half years. She and Reimers travel six months of the year, creating "Cinderella" in a new town every week.

"It's a cool job to be able to travel and see the country," she said. A history buff, Tanner said she hopes to visit Gettysburg while she's in the area.

Reimers started working in theater at age 8, and is in his second six-month tour.

The children auditioning were "really great," he said. "That made it hard on us. The job is easier if there are a lot of 'bad' kids."

Tanner and Reimers arrive in each town with all the sets, costumes, scripts and props needed to put on the musical.

"The town has to provide the kids, a piano player, a hotel room for each of us, and a place to rehearse and perform," he said. They've performed in a variety of venues, he said, including school gyms. The Capitol Theatre is "definitely a nice place" for the performances.

The production is presented by the Chambersburg Council for the Arts with funding provided by Gannett Foundation and Penn National Resort Community.

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