Sunday, February 26, 2012

Volunteers put the "community" in Cheyenne's community theatre

This afternoon's matinee is the last performance of "Bad Seed" by the Cheyenne Little Theatre Players.

Too bad, really, as it's a fine show that addresses some up-and-coming issues of the 1950s, when the play first hit Broadway. During that time, there was a great debate over the nature-nurture thesis. Some experts thought that the nurturing of a good family could overcome any bad natural tendencies, such as murdering your classmates. Others thought there could be a "bad seed," that some children are just inherently bad.

In the play, eight-year-old Rhoda is a cute-as-a-button killer. A classmate drowns during a school picnic and Rhoda was the last one to be seen with him. Did she or didn't she? -- that's the plays big question. You can get a full description of the plot here.

In the CLTP program's "Director's Notes," Toni Tomei notes that the play may display its "threads of age" but its subject is still debated and "has been played out in countless books, films and television shows since." Not to mention the nightly news. How many murders have we seen committed by "that nice boy next door?" You know, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Dylan Klebold.

But the best part of the play is in the doing of it. My wife and I are just two of the many volunteers who showed up during the course of the play. The cast and crew has been at the Mary Godfrey Theatre every day since the beginning of the year. Auditions were held, followed by six week of rehearsals. A set was built. Tickets were sold and press releases sent out. It takes a village to put on a play.

Saddle Ridge Elementary School student Lexie Woolridge (the creepy Rhoda) was recently seen as Baby Kangaroo in "Seussical, Jr." Assistant Director Wes Peterson is a recent graduate of Montana State University, a high school teacher and last year played Finch in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Sharry Arneson (Miss Kent) works at the Barnes & Noble Starbuck's and both of her twenty-something children are actors. David James (Leroy) studied acting at NYU and enjoys painting. Fifteen people designed and built the set, including Eddie Heying (foreman), actor/singer and CLTP Office Manager Dana Heying and their two talented daughters.

Both of our kids have been involved with our community theatre. During his high school years, Kevin acted in several plays and also was a summer melodrama volunteer. He spent his community college years in Tucson as the student theatre's light-and-sound guy. Our daughter has volunteered as an usher and popcorn maker. Last night, I was house manager and my wife ran the box office. In the audience last night was a local physician, several fellow state employees, at least one preacher, a young married couple who met on the set, an artist, teachers, railroaders, retirees, etc. They were at the Mary Godfrey Theatre despite stiff competition from a Cheyenne Symphony performance and the second night of "Oklahoma" next door at East High School. Not to mention the competition presented by the wind and the cold.

If you get a chance at 2 p.m. today, go see "Bad Seed." Or get your tickets now for "The 39 Steps" March 23-April 1 at the Historic Atlas Theatre. The CLTP will also hold its 2012-2013 season debut session April 5 at the Atlas. You can also support the CLTP Mardi Gras Bash fund-raiser March 3 (next Saturday) at the Atlas.

Support your local theatre! FMI: http://www.cheyennelittle

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