NEW ULM -It's going to be more of a whirlwind than the The Martin Luther College Children's Theater is used to.
The group is used to putting on several shows in just a few days for school children but this year the troupe is also taking the show on the road.
This year, the Children's Theater is performing Aesop's [oh so slightly] Updated Fables. Which means it really not much like the original fables but every once in a while there is a moral to the story and it should all be entertaining to the children.
The entire cast pictured at the finale of the play.
The mouse, played by Carina Rahn, talks while the lion, Tim Rosenow, prepares to eat her.
Pictured from left: Josh Jensen, Becky Flad (background), Sarah Zietlow (background), Nate Wordell, Andrew Buschkopf, Darin Warnecke and Samantha Hussman.
Narrator, Darin Warnecke, proposes to Tortoise, played by Jodi Selin, as “The hare” , Kimmi Lehninger, lays near by.
The play is made up of six different Aesop's Fables: the Dog and the Bone; the Fox and the Grapes; the Tortoise and the Hare; the Miller, the son and the donkey; the Lion and the Mouse; the Country Maid. The one story that is long term throughout the play is the Tortoise and the Hare as their race continues to pop up inside the other stories.
"I liken it to a Bugs Bunny cartoon," director Steven Springborn said. "It's all these seven minute skits that are really silly. It's like a vaudeville show, with little acts that are fun by themselves."
Seventeen different actors play multiple roles in the plays. The actors use minimal props, a very basic set but some outrageous costumes to tell a very entertaining story.
If you go...
WHO: Martin Luther College Children's Theater
WHAT: Aesop's [oh so slightly] Updated Fables
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 23 and 24
WHERE: Wittenberg Collegiate Center Auditorium
The cast of:
Aesop's [oh so slightly] Updated Fables
Andrew Buschkopf - Miller, Fox and Pond
Becky Flad - Girl
Samantha Hussman - Narrator 3 and Chorus Girl
Josh Jensen - Chicken and Son
Peter Janke - Butcher
Kimmi Lehninger - Hare
Lauren Loescher - Grapes and Woman
Cale Mead - Reporter and Activist
Carina Rahn - Mouse and Chorus Girl
Tim Rosenow - Activist, Chicken and Lion
Caleb Schmiege - Narrator 4, Lounge Singer and Reporter
Jodi Selin - Tortoise and Woman
Aimee Ulm - Maid and Narrator 1
Darin Warnecke - Narrator 2 and Grumpy Old Guy
Nate Wordell - Dog and Donkey
Sarah Zietlow - Girl 2 and Chorus Girls
"The stories are based on Aesop's Fables with a very modern twist," producer Carolyn Mayes said. "I think that the children will like the really wacky characters, there is lots of physical humor going on and there is all kinds of stuff going on, on the stage. There is always something to be watching."
The Children's Theater is pretty intense. They perform eight times over two days. Three performances each on April 22 and 23 to several different schools. They also have two performances open to the public at 7:30 p.m. on the 23 and 24.
More than 5,000 students are expected to attend over the two days. The students are coming from 75 different schools, some as far away as South Dakota and Wisconsin.
But in addition to those shows, the Children's Theater is also taking its show on the road to perform three more shows April 30 at St. John's Lutheran School in Lake City, Minnesota.
"It was a little bit challenging determining what we can take what we can't take," Mayes said. "But their school is taking on all of the advertising down there. They are doing a large chunk of finding us hosts, they have been really generous."
They won't be taking the set, just the costumes and the props.
"What's really cool is the script doesn't call for any set," Springborn said. "I invented the set. Just because I wanted something extra. So we could really perform the whole thing with just a couple chairs and a stool.
"We will bring the giant props and the costumes though, which will speak for themselves really."
The idea of having the show travel was hatched last year but there wasn't enough time to work out the logistics. This year, the thought was brought up at the beginning of rehearsal and they worked it out.
"One of the teachers [at St. John's] suggested it because it is a little too far to drive their kids all the way over here," Mayes said. "It will be a good witness opportunity to show them a little bit about what our college is about too. It's really exciting seeing everything for the trip finally come together. It's fun to be able to take this production, that we have worked on so hard, on the road and perform it three more times."
Three vans a trailer and two cars will haul cast, costumes and props across the state to Lake City.
"I hope we can continue to take it on the road," Mayes said. "I don't know if we will do it again next year but I hope they continue to do it."
The actors have been rehearsing since mid-February and things are starting to come together at the right time.
"It has been really neat to see our cast grow," Mayes said. "They have done a wonderful job, so much dedication. All of these guys are students, they are involved in so much other things."
And Springborn has enjoyed directing the show as well.
"It's been so much fun. Children's theater is one of my favorites. It's been a blast," he said. "This cast has worked really hard. It's a really easy show, but we have added some harder things with set pieces and doubling a lot of characters."
He said that actors have tried to make the performance stand out to the children.
"I think that the children are going to love it," he said. "The colors are big, the characters are huge - this cast has really developed really big characters - and we have been careful to keep in mind that we aren't just trying to be funny to college students because that's what they are used too. They are acting for college students most of the time. So the trick is to say, 'what would a kindergartner think is funny?' Some of them really have it down."
Mayes said the children will love it but the parents should find it enjoyable too.
"It's geared to elementary school aged kids but there are some things that an older audience will find entertaining too."