Princes and princesses and fairy tale mix ups abound in Performing Arts to Homeschoolers next production “Princess Whatsername” playing March 5-7 at the Chehalis Theater.
A musical by Brian D. Taylor, “Princess Whatsername” tells the story of a princess who wakes up in a magical forest and does not remember who she is. As she follows the clues to try to figure out her identity, she is assisted by a variety of classic fairy tale characters who she meets along the way. Also, along the way, she meets a variety of classic fairy tale princesses and their princes who are trying in vain to find their way to their fair maiden.
“People will enjoy all the mixes of fairy tales together to make this really funny tale,” said Liam Calquhoun, 11, a cast member who has been involved with PATH for four years.
This is the seventh year for PATH, which offers theater experiences for local homeschool students. The organization produces two theatrical productions every year. The upcoming production of “Princess Whatsername” includes 46 local homeschool students ages 5-13 as part of the cast and another five who are part of the production’s crew. A separate theater course through PATH is available for 14 to 17-year-olds.
Angela Wilcox, one of three directors (the others being Tiffany Venters and Andrea Gallien) who work with PATH students, said the organization has grown over the years. She said they have learned to fine tune larger productions and have many homeschool families that love the program and sign their kids up year after year. To Wilcox, the importance of having an organization like PATH is about getting kids on stage and so much more.
“They learn teamwork and collaboration and even a level of professionalism to show up and have your stuff memorized,” Wilcox said. “Personally, I believe kids belong on stage. It’s a safe place for kids who are full of dramatic energy to do that well. And also, for the kids who are more introverted, it’s a safe space for them as well. So, it’s a great place for both kinds of kids who really need an outlet.”
Cheri Plaza’s oldest son, Micah, 13, has been involved in PATH since it began and her son, Jonah, 7, is also now involved.
“I love the collaborative aspect of it. As a homeschooling parent, I look for places for my children to learn from other people. I think that’s important,” Plaza said. “One of the things I realized was, we do a lot of things with other homeschool families and every single one of these relationships have come from this program.”
The young performers from PATH only rehearse once a week for six weeks for each show, then have a more intensive two weeks of “tech rehearsals” the two weeks leading up to each performance. Wilcox explained that they do not want to take away from families’ evenings together and cannot meet daily because it would be an interruption to the rest of the students’ schooling. This method requires a great deal of memorization and work to be done by each actor and actress on their own. But the young thespians said they enjoy the challenge.
“I enjoy acting out of my comfort zone,” said Charlotte Todd, 8, who is now in her third year with PATH. “I want to learn new things and theater is a fun way to do that.”
Advanced tickets to “Princess Whatsername” are on sale through Brown Paper Tickets, or tickets can be purchased at the door 30 minutes prior to each of the three performances. The Chehalis Theater will be offering concessions for sale at each show as well.