By Beth James
“A fantastic show to be enjoyed by kids of all ages,” reads one review. An “excellent adaptation of a Roald Dahl’s children’s classic…designed to capture fertile imaginations within its appealing story-line and simple language,” raves another. “…a classic tale of goodies and baddies – of Mr. Fox trying to outwit the mean and repulsive farmers.” Who could resist seeing a show with reviews such as this? Kernersville Little Theatre is hoping that local audiences will not, as they bring to the stage “Fantastic Mr. Fox” in their eleventh annual Bring a Book to Life show on the Fitzpatrick Auditorium stage, beginning February 23 and running that weekend and the next.
With an original story by favorite children’s author, Roald Dahl, adapted for the stage by David Wood, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” tells the story of the cunning Mr. Fox and his repeated attempts to outwit three local farmers, as he regularly steals food from their farms. These farmers–Boggis, Bunce, and Bean–band together to stop him, determined to do so by any means possible, but they appear to be no match for him. Mr. Fox has a plan to feed his family and friends, and the story unfolds as these hapless farmers take on an animal that may just be too smart to be outwitted.
With a cast of adults and children of all ages, this KLT annual Bring a Book to Life show promises to appeal to those same audiences of all ages. The show is directed by local business owner (Oak Ridge’s ‘To the Moon and Back’) and award-winning ice cream maker, Brian Albrecht; who has a history of directing children’s theatre at Oak Ridge Elementary School when he was a teacher there, as well as experience on stage with KLT and Lewisville Outdoor Theatre during recent years.
The Bring a Book to Life series of shows became an annual event for Kernersville Little Theatre over ten years ago, with their first production in the series being “Charlotte’s Web.” It is a way to present theatre for all ages in our community, and specifically a way to thank the Kernersville Elementary School for the continued use of their Fitzpatrick Auditorium wing for other shows. The program includes the usual two weekends of shows for the general public, as well as a show only for the school during one of their regular days. KLT also provides an age-appropriate book of the story to every student in the school.
When a cast “of all ages” is mentioned, KLT means it. Appearing on stage, for the first time anywhere in this production, is four-year-old William Robertson. He will be playing a role of a small rabbit, alongside his mother, Kylie James, somewhat of a veteran with KLT. The more seasoned of the cast includes several actors in their 50s. While four-year-olds are not often cast in live stage productions, Brian Albrecht was interested in the family-feel for this show, so his own son, Ronald, will be playing the role of “the Rat.” Father/daughter duo, Donovan and Shaylee Platt, will also be on stage as Badger and Mabel. Throughout the years, many volunteers (on stage and off) have mentioned the family-feel of KLT, and while that often refers to the close friendships that develop when folks work on a show together, KLT is also blessed with having several families with generational connections. Just in this show, there are three generations involved, as Kylie’s mother and William’s grandmother will be one of the show’s production managers!
Bring a Book to Life (BBL), as previously mentioned, came to life on the KLT stage which most often is the James Fitzpatrick Auditorium on the campus of Kernersville Elementary School eleven years ago with “Charlotte’s Web.” These shows, based on beloved children’s books (others include “The Velveteen Rabbit”, “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”, and “A Christmas Carol”), come to life on the stage for the children of Kernersville Elementary at a special performance. Each child in the school will also receive a book (often the actual book the show is based on), and for many of them these are the first book of their own and the first (maybe only) experience they have seeing live theatre. Many Kernersville Elementary School teachers have their class write letters to the cast and production teams of the BBL shows, thanking them for the performance. Last year’s “Seussical” was especially popular with the children, and their letters of thanks included their hand drawn depictions of their favorite characters and scenes. What this feedback means to a cast is immeasurable – almost as much as the applause at the end of a show!
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” runs from February 23 through 25 and March 1 through 3. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30PM, Sunday matinees are at 2:00PM. Tickets can be ordered on thundertix.com for a $2 discount, reserved by calling the KLT office at 336-993-6556 and leaving a message, or purchased at the door (cash, cards, checks). Door prices are $20 for Adults, $18 for Students and Seniors (60+), and $8 for Children under 12. This is definitely a show that is appropriate for all ages. For more information, see the KLT website (KLTheatre.org) or call the office and leave a message.