Workshop ends ‘Big Bad’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2008

AHOSKIE – And they all lived happily ever after. Or did they?

Local children, who range in age from 7 years to high school seniors, are taking part in the Gallery Theatre’s 42nd Summer Youth Workshop, which will present “The Big Bad Musical” on July 18- 19 at 7 p.m.

“The Big Bad Musical” is a courtroom comedy about a trial in the fairy tale world. A cast of storybook characters brings a class- action law suit against the Big, Bad Wolf.

Characters in the play include Little Red Riding Hood, her Grandmother, the Three Little Pigs, the Fairy Godmother, a lumberjack, a shepherd, the Boy who Cried Wolf, The Wolfettes, The Big Bad Wolf, a judge, the Evil Stepmother, Miss Muffit and Sydney Grimm.

Sydney Grimm is the commentator on live court TV and the Evil Stepmother and the Fairy Godmother are the two lawyers involved in the case.

The audience is the jury and must determine the outcome of the trial.

Jill Gadsden is the director of the show. Gadsden has been involved in theatre ever since her first performance as Tinkerbell in “Peter Pan” at the Gallery Theatre. Since that first performance, Gadsden has worked in theatres in different areas, including Georgia and Washington D.C.

Ralph Hewitt, executive director of the Gallery Theatre, said theatre and the arts are important in general for children.

“The children develop skills they can use in daily life, not just for the theatre,” he said.

“They learn teamwork, how to speak, how to put themselves in front of people and break shyness, communication and dancing.”

Hewitt said it is rewarding when you go through a production and see the shyness, but you know something is there.

“Once you get the child to act and then they realize they can do it, it helps their self esteem,” said Hewitt. “It goes through the roof.”

He also stressed the importance of creativity.

“It’s important to use a part of yourself to be creative,” he said. “It opens up possibilities for the future.”

He added that another important part of acting is having fun.

Hewitt said they play theatre games in the workshop to help the children get to know each other and to help them use their imaginations.

“Performing takes energy and focus,” he said. “We are storytelling and we want everyone to hear and understand the story.”

Travis Gatling, who plays the Big Bad Wolf, is in his seventh year at the workshop.

“I like theatre because you can express yourself in many different ways and show your true emotions on stage,” he said. “I also love music and I love to sing and this musical combines jazz and blues.”

Kayla Wolverton, who plays Sydney Grimm, has been involved in the workshop for four years.

“Theatre is fun; it is a way to express yourself and to be creative,” said Wolverton. “And this is a funny play.”

Gadsden said acting is great because you can be anything you want to be.

“I think sometimes when children watch television and see the actors, they think the job seems easy, but it is not as easy as it looks,” she said. “It is fun, but it is also hard work.”

Gadsden added that acting takes a lot of focus.

“You can’t get by with just being a cute face,” she said.

“I hope the children take way from this experience the fact that there is something out there besides movies and television,” said Gadsden.

Hewitt said there are 23 children involved in the musical.

The workshop is five weeks long. It began on June 16 and rehearsals are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the first three weeks. During the last two weeks, rehearsals are Mondays- Fridays.

There was a registration fee of $50 per student for the workshop.

There were some scholarships available to help with the cost.

Those interested in attending the performance can call the Gallery Theatre at 252-332-2976 for additional information.

These projects receive support from the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.