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NRACT’s Spring Musical Is “Stuart Little”

Marleigh Purgar-McDonald as Stuart Little (photo by Christine R. Choi)

Marleigh Purgar-McDonald as Stuart Little (photo by Christine R. Choi)

The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre will stage a youth-theater presentation of Stuart Little as its spring musical on May 6-8, 13-15, and 20-22 in its small black-box theater in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, in north Raleigh, NC. The show features music by Ronna Frank, lyrics by Joseph Robinette and Frank, and a book by Robinette, based on the beloved 1945 children’s book by E.B. White (1899-1985).

“I first heard about the show when NRACT chose it for their yearly musical in May last year,” recalls guest director Sheila Outhwaite. “I like the fact that unlike the movie, the script is close to the classic book on which it is based, and that this is a musical with lots of upbeat numbers….

“As the show opens,” Outhwaite explains, “we meet a group of actors discussing the unlikely situation that Stuart (Marleigh Purgar-McDonald), the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Little (Marshall Adams and Shantelle Allwood), is a mouse. When they determine that the audience is unfamiliar with the story, they decide to tell it in their own way.

“Each actor plays one or more roles throughout the show as they portray Stuart’s interactions with the world around him,” Outhwaite says. “We see his relationship to his brother George (Chase Allen) and the family cat Snowbell (Macy Borter) and with other characters as he strays further from home. However, the strongest friendship he makes is with Margalo (Allison Borter), a bird who is found dying on the windowsill of the Littles’ home.”

She adds, “Stuart saves Margalo’s life, and Margalo in turn saves Stuart from a fate worse than death. Nevertheless, when Margalo learns from a Pigeon (Logan Jones) that his life is in danger again, he reluctantly leaves the Littles’ home.

“Stuart is devastated, and sets out to find Margalo,” Outhwaite reports. “He visits his friend Dr Carey (Joshua Leonard), who advises him to head north. As Stuart searches for Margalo, we see him struggle to become worthy of the title ‘Mr. Little.’ Along the way, he meets a shopkeeper (Shantelle Allwood), a beautiful girl named Harriet (Erin Cutler), a collection of river creatures, a school superintendent (Marshall Adams), a classroom of children, and a telephone repairman (Jaron Jones) — who [all] help him in his search for both Margalo and maturity.”

In addition to director Sheila Outhwaite, the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre’s creative team for Stuart Little includes producer Jay Dolan, assistant director Sandra Shelton, musical director Craig Johnson, technical director Todd Houseknecht, lighting designer Julia Phipps, costume designer Kelly Taylor, sound designer John Maruca, and stage manager Ashley Borter.

Director Sheila Outhwaite says, “I have to say that the main challenges [in staging Stuart Little at NRACT] were the costuming — how do you represent river creature with a simple costume addition — and the props, which call for a mixture of small, standard-size, and oversized props.”

She adds, “The basic set consists of 12 cubes which are placed in various configurations to represent the various locales needed for the show. Additionally, the indoor scenes are played against a backdrop representing the indoors. Outdoor scenes are played against a backdrop of a city or of the countryside, depending on the location….

“Each cast member has a basic costume to which accessories are added to suggest the role being played,” notes director Sheila Outhwaite. “For example, the basic costume of the actor playing Snowbell will be white, and ears, collars, and cuffs will be added for the role of Snowbell.”

North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents STUART LITTLE at 7 p.m. May 6-7, 13-14, and 20-21 and 3 p.m. May 8, 15, and 22 at NRACT, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615.

TICKETS: $15 ($12 students and seniors), except all Sunday matinee tickets $10, $5 Student Rush Tickets (sold 5 minutes before show begins), and discounts for groups of 15 or more.

BOX OFFICE: 919/866-0228, info@nract.org, or https://www.vendini.com/.

SHOW: http://www.nract.org/2011/04/12/stuart-2/.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://nract.org/.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.idiots.net/improv-raleigh-village-idiots-contact.html.

NOTE: There will be a $30-per-person special “Sunday Picnic with the Littles” fundraising event at 1 p.m. on May 15th, with the price including both the picnic and a show ticket.

OTHER LINKS:

The Musical and Its Creators: http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p1457/Stuart-Little/product_info.html (Dramatic Publishing).

The Book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Little (Wikipedia).

E.B. White: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._B._White (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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