The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 25, 2013

Children’s show ready to hit the stage

BY DEVAN STREBING
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — “Everyone is excited to be here, they’re really bringing their A game,” said Drake Taylor, assistant director of Danville Light Opera’s Children’s Theatre Production of “The Return of Halley’s Comet.”

Taylor, along with Charlie Hester, director of the production, are getting ready to present the show this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Danville Area Community College’s Bremer Auditorium.

Friday and Saturday’s performances will begin at 7 p.m. and Sunday will begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children, free for DLO subscription holders. Tickets still are available at Java Hut, First Savings Bank and the door before the show.

The musical composer of the show, Andrea Green, will return for the second time in two years to watch her musical on stage.

“Green wrote last year’s musical, and we wanted to do another of hers. This one was the best fit for the summer show. We spoke with her about making changes, and she is coming this (today) to see her musical performed,” Hester said.

Green also will be at center court at the Village Mall 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday for a meet-and-greet. Anyone is welcome to come and listen to her sing and play the piano as well.

“The Return of Halley’s Comet” is set in the year 2061 in a town called Centuryville. It has been 76 years since Halley’s Comet last appeared when magical things happened to the town. It now needs some magic when it has been divided by the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy people.

Those who are not-so-wealthy are not happy, but are afraid to speak out about it. Then some visitors from the sky show up and shake the entire town, forcing everyone to take a good look at themselves and the town they call home.

The cast of more than 40 children, ages 8-15, has been working hard four nights a week for the past two months. They did not have to audition for this show; they just had to sign up.

“We didn’t want any of the kids to feel left out,” Hester said.

Brooklynne Klett, Brookelyn Powell and Esther Hanson all decided to join the cast because they have older sisters who were in the previous shows.

“My sister tricked me into doing last year’s play, but this year I wanted to come back,” Klett said.

All three are having fun and love their unique costumes.

“All of the costumes are unique to each child. We bought bags of clothing from the Humane Society and have made many different outfits,” Hester said.

The costumes and sets are all made to look like the “steam punk” genre, a sub-genre of science fiction that features steam-powered machinery, in this case with costumes, props and sets. All of the props also are unique and different, with the sets all hand-painted.

Residents from the four homes with mentally disabled adults in Danville are coming to the first show for free tonight.

“All of the residents are coming to give our kids a great audience. Everyone laughs and has fun,” said Hester.

The crew asks all audience members to bring non-perishable items to help collect desperately needed supplies for the YFRC Women’s Shelter, things such as toiletries, diapers and wipes.

The cast and production team are working hard to put on a show that makes people walk away wanting to be a better person, create change in their community, and to give back.