Jenalee Tighe practice a scene during the final dress rehearsal on Wednesday night. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
Jenalee Tighe practice a scene during the final dress rehearsal on Wednesday night. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Archived Story

Youth production debuts at Barn Swallow this weekend

Published 10:09am Friday, August 8, 2014

A royal court, a lazy witch, and a not-so-fearsome dragon will be invading the stage of the Barn Swallow Theatre this weekend, as the Edwardsburg playhouse will host a youth production of Phyllis McCallum’s “The Pale Pink Dragon.”

Debuting Thursday and running through Sunday, the fairy tale play tells the story of young Princess Pinkie, who, after being transformed into a dragon by her jealous step-mother and step-sister, must find a way to break their spell.

A group of 18 local kids, ages 7-15, star in the play, which is directed by Melissa Auvil. The students have been working on the play since May, spending three days a week rehearsing at the theater, Auvil said.

“We’ve been working a light rehearsal schedule so that the kids can still enjoy their summer vacations,” she said.

This is the first show that the Midland-native is directing at the Barn Swallow. She has directed several in shows area before, including two at Beckwith Theatre in Dowagiac.

“The Pale Pink Dragon” is a play near and dear to Auvil’s heart: it was the first show she starred in middle school (as the head of the dragon), and was the first play she ever directed, 12 years ago in Midland.

“One of the reasons I love this show is that Phyllis McCallum didn’t dumb down the script just because it was written for children,”  Avuil said. “The text is challenging, and has provided a great opportunity to expand their vocabulary.”

Helming the show for a second time has been delightful for her, especially after more than a decade separated from her debut, she said.

“I know this show so well that I can recite almost all the lines from memory,” Auvil said. “But it’s been a new experience seeing done by a different cast. The characters are technically the same, but the kids all bring something new to their roles.”

The cast has taken well to the material as well, especially given the Disney movie-esque costuming and set design.

“August isn’t always a easy month to be wearing heavy makeup and costumes in an theater with out air conditioning,” she said. “The kids have been good sports.”

Parents have also been enthusiastic about the play, helping create the props and assisting with rehearsals. Auvil’s mother, Cindi Whitaker, made the pink dragon costume.

The curtain opens at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets for the show cost $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children 12 and under. For reservations, call the theater at (269) 445-2511.

“It’s a great show with a great cast,” Auvil said. “These kids have been working hard and they’re ready for an audience. Come hear them roar.”


Director: Melissa Auvil

Choreographer: Stephanie Rickords

Accompanist: Liesl Bell

Cast in Alphabetical Order

Princess Pea-Green: Emily Andrina

Queen Contemptua: Aliea Bakerson

Lady Valerie: Audrey Bakerson

King Clement: Bailey Bakerson

Matt Lusk, Dragon Head: Ronin Biggs

Edward Thrush: John Bossler

Martin Mosby: Parker Enright

Lady Anne, Hannibal: Carli Hansen

Lady Monica, Dragonfly: Olivia Hansen

Maude Lusk: Sydney Herring

Princess Pinkie: McKenzie Pepper

Witch: Katie Rutowicz

Prince Hal: George Ryan

William Hedgepeth: Ethan Sheets

Minnie Mosby: Kamryn Smith

Mary Hedgepeth: Kerith Spake

Dragon: Zachary Smiley

Chamberlain Poutchiekin: Jenalee Tighe

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