Co-Lin summer activity draws out actors in local children

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A witch with long, green, ratty hair with little strands of blonde hair poking out from underneath the wig began her monologue.

She was dressed in a big black pointy hat with orange feathers lining the edge, orange and black striped gloves with orange feather accents to match, a black dress &045; and tennis shoes.

As she began to tell the story, you could look around to see a princess trapped in a cardboard tower, giggling as the witch laughs about taking revenge on the princess.

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Welcome to a special adaption of Rapunzel by the Kids College Players, a group of first through third graders attending a week-long class at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. This week’s theme &045; theater.

Friday’s production appeared to have everything, including the three &uot;evil pink bunnies&uot; hopping away with their headband bunny ears and Kleenex cotton tails.

Behind the girl covered in the sheet (she’s the moat) was the &uot;giant, man-eating crawfish&uot; complete with crawfish hat and tongs for claws. There was the &uot;enchanted thorn bush&uot; just waiting to attack anyone trying to come her way.

And don’t leave out the princes that were vying for the princess’ heart with tools to conquer the traps that lay ahead.

All last week, these 11 children learned about theater through improvisational games and activities.

In one game, &uot;Pass the Slipper,&uot; the students passed a slipper until the music stops. Whoever had the slipper when it stopped had to reach into a bag, pull out a piece of costuming and pretend to be whatever the costume suggested.

All of these games prepared the students for Friday, the day of their performance. And they did not even start practicing for their play until Thursday.

Kid’s College Director Beth Richard is as new to the program as the theater session is &045; both in their first year.

But Richard is no stranger to theater productions, having directed &uot;The Glass Slipper&uot; at the Natchez Little Theater last summer.

The course was taught by her daughter Jordan, a senior at the Mississippi School for Art and Science, who has always been interested in drama.

As the children ran around the stage during dress rehearsal, Richard said while it is a good program she will definitely do again, the children were sometimes &uot;hard to focus.&uot;

&uot;It’s so funny, because you tell them the same thing 20 times and sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t,&uot; Richard said.

But Friday at 9:30 a.m., just an hour and a half before the performance, everything had to be in line.

The children ran through the play numerous times before having a break and then, off to makeup.

Some, like 6-year-old Cena Mullins, needed a little more drastic makeup than others. Since there were only two boys in the group and three princes in the script, Mullins was recruited to play the prince that got eaten by the man-eating crawfish.

&uot;It’s not so bad,&uot; Mullins said. For makeup, she got a mustache to help her play the part.

And the moat, Angel Brooks, got blue waves painted on her face.

Everyone got makeup by the professionals &045; Jordan Richard, Kirby Richard and Jessica Marchbanks, assistants for the week &045; except the last prince, Brandon Nettles.

But he was not too upset, looking at the others run down to the restroom to check out their new looks.

&uot;I’m glad I don’t get any makeup,&uot; Nettles said.

While the children were playing games to stay quiet, parents, family and friends, who received hand-made invitations to the show, gathered outside.

Before the players went on, some &045; like the actress playing the witch, Jordan Nettles &045; were a little nervous.

Nettles was the only character with more than one line in the entire production. As the witch, she told the audience &045; in her best witch voice, complete with the cackle &045; how the story came about.

Nettles said she loves dressing up and may be an actress one day. And it showed &045; as she began to tell the story, she pulled her hair for dramatic effect when she began to tell how her beautiful hair had turned so ugly.

As she spoke, giggles emanated from the crowd.

The final prince defeated all of the obstacles, the clever way. He brought more laughter from the parents, using weed killer to kill the enchanted thorn bush, putting a net on top of the man-eating crawfish and pulling carrots from his pockets to deter all three of the evil pink bunnies.

&uot;It was great,&uot; Gwen Massey, &045; mother of Abby Massey, Rapunzel for the day &045; said following the last bow.

And while there was no curtain to signal the end of a curtain call, there were cookies and punch &045; a tasty ending to a week of learning and fun.