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THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE | July 16-25

IN “THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE” BY ALAN BROADHURST, AESOP’S FABLED TORTOISE AND HARE SQUARE OFF AGAIN

Raleigh Little Theatre’s Teens on Stage, aged 13-18, will present THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE, OR THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE, adapted from Aesop’s familiar fable in 1965 by British playwright Alan Broadhurst and directed for RLT by Linda O’Day Young, on July 16-18 and 20-25 in its Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre. The moral of the fable and play is the same: Overconfidence can lead to disaster.

“The appeal of this show is that it has enough roles to challenge the 18 tens in the Teens on Stage Conservatory,” says director Linda Young.

On its website, Raleigh Little Theatre explains:

“An intensive five-week theater program, Teens on Stage (TOS) culminates in 16 performances of THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE, the opening production for Raleigh Little Theatre‘s new [2010-11] season. All TOS students take morning conservatory classes that include acting, movement, voice, and improvisation. In the afternoon, students rehearse THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE with RLT youth theater and education director Linda O’Day Young.”

Linda Young says, “[THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE] opens in the countryside on a lovely afternoon. The Woodland animals have gathered for the Annual Sports Day. They are: Mr. Sett, a Badger (Triona Kagan); Miss Warren, a Rabbit (Harper Cleland); Mrs. Spiney, a Hedgehog (Melissa Palahnuk); Mr. Paddle, a Water Rat (Katelyn Kidwell); and Young Master Brush, a Squirrel (Alex Hanyok). They are intrigued by an odd object which wasn’t there the day before. Is it a rock? But it has legs! What is it?

“The problem is solved,” Young says, “when Mr. Basket, a Dog (Lauren Miller), arrives. He and his little female humans, Jackie (Charlotte Hopson) and Robin (Devon McCarroll), have been searching for Mr. Sloe, their pet Tortoise (Cameron Newton), who has wandered off. The rock is he! Basket promises to lead his humans off, so that Tortoise can visit. The Woodland creatures are intrigued by the humans as well as their language [which] is not understandable. (The humans in the show speak a gibberish language written by RLT student Tess Mygatt.)

“Soon Mr. Fleet, a Hare (Jacob Timmons), shows up to compete in the Cross Country Race; but Mr. Reynard, a Fox, has been injured and cannot compete. Sports Day is nearly a disaster until Tortoise volunteers to race Mr. Fleet,” Young explains. “The rest of the show is a behind-the-scenes look at the classic race as both Hare and Tortoise make their way around the course. It is a race between two philosophies, the Hare’s ‘To the swift, the lettuce.’ And the Tortoise’s ‘Slow and steady wins the race.'”

Young notes, “The course takes [Hare and Tortoise] from Frog Rock Quarry to the Bramble Thicket and on to the River Bank, where Hare can’t resist the Fisherman’s (Madeline Cooke) lunch. Then it’s on to the Grassy Bank and then the Squirrel’s Tree in the woods, where they encounter two romantic humans, George (Reid Nadasky) and Maude (Emma Caterinicchio), expressing their love in Shakespearean gibberish.

“[Hare and Tortoise] are almost home when they cross through Farmer Black’s (Madeline Cooke) farm,” notes Linda Young. “The beautiful pastoral setting, complete with well-mannered Sheep [Emma Caterinicchio, Harper Cleland, Madeline Cooke, Angela Gazzillo, Reid Nadasky, and Melissa Palahnuk] is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the urban Notcouth family, father Stanley (Alan Osuna), mother Sylvia (Alyssa Petrone), brother Brando (Owen Flaherty), and sister Sophia (Wesleigh Neville). They invade the land like Huns, frightening the sheep and littering the ground and nearly capturing both Tortoise and Hare; but luckily, Jackie, Robin, Basket, and Farmer Black save them.

“The last stop is Mrs. Stainer’s (Emma Caterinicchio) cottage,” Young says. “Her clothesline and her garden of carrots almost ends the race for Mr. Fleet. As for the ending, it’s a real nail-biter.”

In addition to director Linda Young, the RLT creative team for THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE also includes assistant director Will Sarratt, technical director and scenic designer Rick Young, lighting designer Andy Parks, costume designer Jenny Butler, sound designer Becca Easley, and stage manager Jeff Eckert.

Director Linda Young claims, “The major challenge with this show is that the playwright wants the humans to speak gibberish, but he did not write the scenes for the humans nor the gibberish. He gives a general idea about what the humans might be saying. Our task was then to write the human scenes, and then translate the English into a gibberish language.

“I asked one of our students, Tess Mygatt, to take on the challenge. Tess produced a gibberish vocabulary, and then translated the human scenes from English to gibberish. Tess did an amazing job! Her ‘language’ is fun and written so well that the actors have been able to speak it with ease. I do not know what I would have done without Tess’s help,” says Linda Young.

Raleigh Little Theatre‘s Teens on Stage present THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE at 7:30 p.m. July 16, 1 and 5 p.m. July 17, 1 p.m. July 18, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. July 20 and 21, 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. July 22, 7:30 p.m. July 23, 1 and 5 p.m. July 24, and 1 p.m. July 25 in RLT‘s Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $13 ($9 children 12 and under).

NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices are available for all shows.

OTHER LINKS:

RLT‘s Teens on Stage: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/learn/summer/teenconservatory.html (official web page).

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Categorised in: Features, Theatre Feature