Local community theater troupe presents darker drama
By Kathryn Purcell
Venturing out into darker, more tragic territory, Madison Community Theater is set to present the play "The Bridge to Terabithia" to local audiences next week.
"It's not toe-tapping entertainment," director Kathleen Bryant said. "It's a little more serious then the stuff we've done in the past."
Based on a book by the same name, the story, set in the Appalachian Mountains sometime during the 1960s, follows a fifth grade boy, Jessie, in his journey to acceptance.
"It's about a very artistic boy who feels left out," Bryant said, of the play's plot line. "A new girl [Leslie] comes to town and she is also not accepted. They become friends."
Together, Jessie and Leslie build a treehouse in the woods, only accessible by a rope swing, and establish a magical kingdom, Terabithia, which they rule over as king and queen. The creation of Terabithia allows Jessie and Leslie to deal with their real-life troubles, like Janice, the bully.
While the plot does end tragically, Bryant chose the play because of the message it contains, and because of Morgan County Middle School reading requirements.
"It's not about loss; it's about the gifts they [those around you] bring you while they're here," Bryant said. "Also, about everyone in the middle school reads the book and I think audiences could relate."
The cast includes 13 characters, ranging from middle school-age to adult, as well as a group of fifth Grade Girls and a Dance Team, and Bryant double-cast the production.
Madison Community Theater's "The Bridge to Terabithia" cast includes Chan Courchaine as Jessie; Sarah Gallagher and Ellen Wilson, Leslie; Brianna Buttrill and Laura Margaret Burbach, Maybelle (Jessie's little sister); Haley Carver and Emily Holloway, Mrs. Aarons (Jessie's mother); Ben Shytle and Kyle Varner, Mr. Aarons (Jessie's father); Emily Shannon and Alyssa Alsbrooks, Brenda (Jessie's older sister); Vivian Guerra and Katherine Key, Janice (the bully); Rachel Gallagher and Emily DeJarnett, Mrs. Edmonds (teacher); Clay Lester and Reed Pagett, Gary Fulcher; Ben McMichael, Boy 1; Jack LeClair, Boy 2; Tori Young and Jessie Adams, Girl 1; and Rachel Everett, Billy Jean. The fifth Grade Girls are played by China Colley, Caroline Harrison, Morgan Michaud, Kilee Norman, Madison Slaughter and Savannah Williams, and the Dance Team includes Annie Akins, Courtney Boswell, Katelyn Carson, Taylor Faust, Marie Hayes and Elizabeth Mahoney.
Also of interest, ninth grade student Courtney Boswell is acting as the choreographer for the production's Dance Team, who perform as Terabithia's tree spirits and fairies. "The Bridge to Terabithia" will be the first show Boswell has choreographed.
"She came up with the concepts on her own," Bryant said.
Additionally, the idea that Boswell is now acting as the production's choreographer illustrates another of Madison Community Theater's goals.
"One of our focuses is to train people how to do this," Bryant said.
Madison Community Theater will present "The Bridge to Terabithia" on Friday, November 14 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, November 15 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, November 16 at 2 p.m. All shows will take place in the Morgan County High School Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and are available at the door. For further ticket information, call (706) 474-2919.