Community theater ready to take stage
The Jamestown Community Theatre this weekend will present “Three One Acts Plus,” a production that includes three short plays and a poem recital. The performances will be something of a departure for the drama company.
According to Director Mary Wright, the theater wanted to do a spring show, but not something as big as its annual fall production. There have been spring shows in the past, but not for several years. The idea of three one-act plays was suggested, and Wright immediately began looking for dramas that had parts for children, but were mainly focused on adults.
“I like the fact that they’re all short, and yet there is strength in each one of them,” Wright said. “I love the diversity of ages in them.”
The first play each evening is a Jason Milligan comedy called “The Fire-Breathing Lady and the Sugar Plum Fairy.” The story revolves around a once-famous director, who is now leading a community theater, and his struggle with a stage mother who wants her children included in the production.
Clayton Carlisle stars as Jim, the down-on-his-luck director. Carlisle has been performing with the Jamestown theater since 1992 when he appeared in a production of “The Music Man.” Since then, he has appeared in “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Annie,” “Cinderella” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I play a director who used to be on Broadway and is now doing kid’s plays,” Carlisle said. “Not that he chooses to do so, but he’s had some setbacks. He’s trying to deal with a very aggressive stage mother.”
Sofie Long plays Belinda in “The Fire-Breathing Lady.” Sofie, 9, attends Melrose School. This is her third appearance with the theater, following “Once Upon a Mattress” and “Dear Edwina.”
“In this play, I’m basically a spoiled brat who is trying to be a lead sugar plum fairy in ‘The Nutcracker,’” Sofie said. “My mom is trying to get me to be the lead, but when I am finally the lead, everything goes crazy.”
Sofie says she enjoys doing gymnastics, which is part of her role.
“He doesn’t want to do it because he has to wear these tights, and his mother is trying to convince him,” Riley said. “In the end, he gets to wear his baseball uniform, but he forgets to take off the hat. It’s funny.”
Keilee Takata has the role of Gussie in the evening’s first offering. Keilee, who is 8 and goes to Melrose School, describes her character as “an 8-year-old girl who likes to yell out random things.”
Alyssa Gibbs, 12, has appeared in productions in the past, including “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Dear Edwina” and “Cinderella.” She attends Lawn School. In “The Fire-Breathing Lady,” she has the role of Annie, the babysitter. Her role finds her talking to her friends on the phone, inviting them to a party.
“It’s really fun, and it’s fun to act in,” she said.
The role of the stage mother, Gloria, is played by Callie Clarke, who first performed with the community theater in 1992. She is returning after a several-years absence.
“I love the process of it,” Clarke said. “All the rehearsals; all of the characters coming alive.”
Philip Reilly plays Jeff, the pizza delivery boy. Philip, whose father Jim is also in the play, is 14 years old. He has appeared previously in the productions of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Dear Edwina.” He said he has some great lines in the play, and he delivers them well.
The second one-act play of the evening is “A Storm is Breaking” by James Damico. While it includes some humorous dialog, the play has a more serious tone than the other plays. It tells the story of a young boy sitting on a curb, guarding the passage of an ant, when he encounters a stranger. Starring as Joey is 11-year-old Ben Kelso, a student at Lawn School.
“I’m a boy who is protecting an ant from being stepped on because his mother told him that his father had been stepped on,” Ben said. “He had an emotional attachment to his father.”
Matt Bolles will also star in “A Storm is Breaking.” Bolles, who was one of the original founders of the Jamestown Community Theatre, has lived in town since 1976. He plays the role of Bill. At the outset, Bolles said Bill was a difficult role for him to take on.
“I’m playing a Type-A businessman, a person who is convinced that he knows what is important and what is not important. He’s about to learn from a young child that he maybe doesn’t know what’s important. I love working with Ben. He’s a wonderful young actor.”
Bolles also appears in the evening’s final play, “Key Lime Pie,” also written by Jason Milligan. For the role of Archibald Stokes, Bolles has to remain semiconscious in a hospital bed while other characters carry on around him.
“Archibald Stokes is really a foil for all of the action that goes on around him, until the very end of the play when he regains consciousness and has a couple of very funny things to say,” he said.
The most difficult part of his performance, Bolles says, is to remain semiconscious and not laugh at the antics that will surround him.
“There’s a lot for an audience to like,” Bolles said.
In addition to the three one-act plays, the “Plus” referred to in the production title will be a poem by Roald Dahl called “Television.” Seven young actors will perform the verse.
The performances will be presented this weekend at the rec center on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and on Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance, and $7 at the door. They can be purchased at Baker’s Pharmacy, Conanicut Marine Ship’s Store, Secret Garden and Cathryn Jamieson Salon.
“The audience is going to laugh a lot,” Wright said. “The first play, about this dysfunctional family, is quite funny. In the second play, they’re going to think a lot, and yet they’re still going to admire and respect the acting of the two gentlemen. The last one, again, is quite funny, inane almost. It’s a comedy of errors.”