By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Horizon Youth Theatre’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” opens with a story about a kindergarten production of Cinderella.
That’s interesting given just last spring many of these same young actors were performing “Cinderella.”
That Rodgers and Hammerstein “Cinderella,” however, did not have a pig. Productions of the classic fairy tale usually don’t have pigs. But in this Robert Fulghum story, a pig is just what the thoughtful young Norman (Bella Truman) wants to play. When told there’s no pig in Cinderella, the youngster replies: “There is now!”
And the fairy godmother in this tale, the kindergarten teacher, makes sure Norman’s dream comes true.
From this kindergarten scene through a lecture by a Greek philosopher (Daniel Cagle) who’s not afraid to answer a question about the meaning of life, Fulghum’s play offers life lessons and uplift leavened by lots of laughter.
Horizon Youth Theatre is staging the play opening tonight (Thursday, Sept. 14) at 7 p.m., continuing Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets, $5, will be sold at the door. Seating is limited. The show is being presented with the audience in the round on the stage.
That puts the audience in the middle of the action as the young actors hustle making entrances and exits and wrestling oversized alphabet blocks onstage. There’s no place for the young thespians to hide with eyes all around and large mirrors on the back wall reflecting the action.
Director Cassie Greenlee said she’s a fan of the show. She directed one scene of it with another troupe and wanted to direct the entire play.
Fulghum is, she said, “a wonderful storyteller and has a lot of important things to say. I feel like a lot of the messages in the show, exercising empathy and things like that, are particularly timely now given the state of the world.”
The show lends itself to a teaching troupe. The 20 scenes give every one of the 22 members of the cast, age 12 to 17, a chance to shine.
Greenlee said that all of them had a say in the production.
The scenes are a series vignettes tied together by a narrative voice. While that voice represents one point of view, many people speak those lines.
Other actors play out the action. Each member of the cast gets a chance to play many roles.
These are contemporary parables.
Being true to yourself like the guy, played by Bob Walters, who takes flight in a lawn chair lifted by balloons, is a recurring theme. But just as important is learning get over yourself and see the world from different eyes.
Sometimes characters are too full of themselves to to notice the world around them, like the woman (Grace Holbrook) who is in such a rush to get to work she runs smack into a spider’s web.
The hero of the story is the poor, industrious spider Sophi Hachtel, whose web is ruined. The scene ends with the audience joining in singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
Or there’s the story of another industrious soul, a deaf boy played by Maddox Brosius who just wants to earn a few dollars raking lawns. The narrator (John Colvin) actually is philosophical about lawns, believing the leaves and seedpods are part of nature and should be left where nature intended. The boy, however, is most conscientious in his duties.
Another character played by Terra Sloane finds inspiration in Beethoven who composed his Ninth Symphony after going deaf. Her pipe dream is to conduct, play and sing in the symphony. Her real mission is to be true to the spirit that compelled the composer to create his masterpiece.
A few musical numbers are interspersed into the action including a rousing duet, “Reflect the Light,” sung by Gavin Miller and Rose Walters.
“Reflect” is reprised at the end, featuring Megan Clifford, who is joined by the entire cast which also includes Megan Carmen, Anjalie Coates, Isaac Douglass, Ligaya Edge, Scarlet Frishman, Eli Marx, Katie Partlow, Narnia Rieske, Lola Truman, Annie Valantine, and Anne Weaver.
Watching their faces, it’s clear that they’ve been moved by seeing the world through the eyes of others, and in the process, have moved us as well.