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Shalom Christian Academy presents tales and scales

March 26, 2006|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.

A fire-breathing dragon and seven princesses, along with witches, knights and soldiers, all came alive for children Saturday afternoon at the matinee performance of "Princess Tales and Dragon Scales" at Shalom Christian Academy.

Using a small flame-throwing apparatus and wearing an elaborate costume, Jonathan Peckman convincingly portrayed the fearsome beast. Jonathan, a senior at the school, said his role was "very interesting, because when I signed up for drama, this is not what I was expecting."

The costume is "pretty heavy and hot," he added. But he obviously was having a good time with his role as he shook hands with the children in the audience at intermission, before his appearance as a dragon, to allay any fears they might have.

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Jonathan, who is 6 feet 6 inches tall, also played a dwarf in the production.

The Shalom Christian Academy Players packed the school's gym for dinner theater performances Thursday and Friday nights and gave two performances Saturday.

The play is the seventh for the troupe, according to drama teacher and director Carol Gardner.

Small children sat on a rug in front of the stage for a good view of the action.

"Princess Tales and Dragon Scales" consists of three vignettes - "The Princess and the Princess," Twice Upon a Time" and "The 51st Dragon."

In "The Princess and the Princess," both Twinkleberry (Kelly Kingsley) and Popplepea (Dawn Hawbaker) pass the test that is supposed to determine which one is the real princess. The Royal Wise Person (Abigail VanKampen) concludes, "It's kindness, good manners, good sense and generosity that makes a princess - and all the rest of us - real."

Alexis Witman, in her second appearance with the drama troupe, portrayed the queen in the vignette.

Daniel Lawson, a senior who played dual roles as a dwarf named Sarcastic and the Headmaster, has appeared in four plays at school and several with Missoula Children's Theater.

The Princess play was "a long time in the making," Daniel said. Students worked on it two periods a week in Gardner's drama class, and started after-school rehearsals in December.

Monica Harnish, a junior who plays Cinderella in "Twice Upon a Time," said she wasn't nervous, and that her role was "a lot of fun."

As a witch named Grub with long orange hair, orange eye shadow and orange-and-black striped stockings, Heather Bert, along with two other similarly dressed witches, has lost the spell book. Without it, the witches can't get their potion to work, even though they recite poetry and the Gettysburg Address to it. Every time they say "Abracadabra," another princess shows up, to their distress.

In "The 51st Dragon," Alex Brown drew laughter from the audience for his bumbling portrayal of knight-in-training Gawaine le Coeur Hardy. He and the fire-breathing dragon run off the stage and through the audience before he "slays" the beast.

Thirty-six students in grades nine through 12 participated, including the technical crew, Gardner said.

The set is trees and a flowery meadow, with a castle in snow-capped mountains in the background. "The 51st Dragon" incorporates video shot on location.

Storyteller Kayla Butz narrates part of the production and sits - and even sleeps - on stage in a huge upholstered chair.

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