NEW ULM - It's not easy to find appropriate material for children ages 11 to 13. The play needs to fit the skill level of the children since it is likely the first play they have ever been in at school.
It's also difficult to find plays that the children will enjoy to do. But with the play, "My Cousin Lino", director Wendy Tuttle believes she has found just that play.
"I think the first exposure to the stage is easier if the play is fun," she said."Not overly deep, it's easier to enjoy. Plus, you get a better reaction from the audience. "It's fun to watch them learn. It's fun to watch those little light bulbs come on."
The play’s cast is pictured here: Back row (left to right): Bridget Forst, Ben Rieke, Jenna Britz, Meia Kjellberg, and Chris Huber. The middle/front rows (left to right) Elissa Schmiel, Genna Sellner, Sara Hoffman, Emma Vranich, Emma Todd, Taylor Tambornino, Peder Johnson, Marlie Pielz, Levi Wick, Clay Sletta, Kate Denney.
The boys and girls have been practicing for a while now. They have put in a lot of time to get ready for their performances.
"These kids have put in a lot of work," Tuttle said. "They put in 15 to 20 hours a week on this play and they have school and other commitments, too. The amount of backstage time is a lot. And you have to give the kids credit, it's pretty brave of them to be out here doing this sort of stuff. They are very exposed even though they are hiding behind a character. It's not an easy thing to do to stand in front of a hundred people."
Tuttle also said that parents and other volunteers have been an important assest as well.
If you go...
What: My Cousin Lino
Where: New Ulm Middle School
When: Friday and Saturday 7 p.m.
Sunday, 2 p.m.
Cost: Adults $7. Students $5
Jonathon: Clay Sletta
Katherine: Elissa Schmiel
Robert: Peder Johnson
Miss Carlson: Jenna Britz
Brockington: Ben Rieke
Mrs. Prescott: Sara Hoffman
Jennifer: Kate Denney
Mrs. Newbury: Meia Kjellberg
Natalie: Emma Vranich
Beatrice: Genna Sellner
Myra: Emma Todd
Paul: Taylor Tamornino
Messenger: Chris Huber
Ira McGillacutty: Bridget Forst
Director: Jerilyn Kjellberg
Set Design: Sheldon Rieke
Tech: Josh Menzel
Costumes: Ellie Lindholm
Assistant Director: Carrie Forstner
Director: Wendy Tuttle
"You can't do a show without volunteers. We have parents that are helping paint the set, that are bringing props, organizing backstage ... those parents are really important to the show."
"My Cousin Lino" is a comedy by Bill Yowell.
The character "Katherine," played by Elissa Schmiel, and character "Jonathan Prescott," played by Clay Sletta, become hysterical when their cousin "Lino," a famous Italian botanist, cancels his trip to the states.
Katherine had planned for Lino to be a guest speaker at a flower society fundrasing dinner. Her brother, Jonathan feels even more desperate for he has offended his upper-crust girlfriend and to make up, he invited her to meet cousin Lino in hopes of impressing her.
When Jonathan's long-lost, but quick-witted friend, Robert shows up, Jonathan convinces him to play Lino.
Katherine is the only one that seems to believe that Robert's limited Italian and knowledge of plants could ruin the plan but she reluctantly goes along, hosts the dinner and fears the worst, which of course does happen.
Dinner guests include the desperate "Beatrice," played by Genna Sellner, who is convinced Lino is to be her husband. "Natalie," played by Emma Vranich, brings a long an Italian dictionary and is desperate to learn the language. Other guests include nosy country folk, "Paul," played by Taylor Tamornino and "Myra," played by Emma Todd.
On top of it all, the newspaper has sent a reporter to cover the event and the reporter just happens to be Robert's old girlfriend.
As Robert goes on the run, complications spin out of control and the stage doors fly open and shut producing and removing characters as everyone looks for the elusive and thoroughly comedic cousin Lino.