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Blue Stilly Players debut in Terrace Park | SLIDESHOW
ARLINGTON — Terrace Park was abuzz with entertainment for all ages from Friday, Aug. 24, through Sunday, Aug. 26, as the Blue Stilly Players finally made their debut public performances over the course of the weekend.
Half a dozen actors brought the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel to life in an open-air setting, and worked around the absence of a theatrical backstage or curtain by making audience members feel like members of the cast.
“We have a hit on our hands, according to our audience,” said Bridget Clawson, founder of the Blue Stilly Players. “We’ve had a great deal of work and fun bringing Arlington quality live theater to enjoy for free in this gorgeous park.”
“Even after seeing this play about 30 times, I still laugh,” said Sue Weingarten, the group’s creative director. “The actors are so energetic and inventive that new bits have appeared daily. Their dedication and the joy of playing have successfully launched the Blue Stilly Players.”
The Blue Stilly Players presented Hansel and Gretel as a play within a play, staged by a theatrical family whose members took on the familiar roles of Hansel, Gretel, their parents and the witch who lives in the gingerbread house.
Hailey Kelm Thomas, a junior at Arlington High School who played Gretel, adjusted to the learning curve of performing only her second extended-length play on a grassy field at the foot of a hill outdoors.
“You’ve got to be louder and have bigger movements than you would on an actual stage,” Kelm Thomas said. “I like seeing people laugh, and the expressions on little kids’ faces. It makes my day when I can say or do something they find funny.”
MacKenzie Mott didn’t bother to shave his beard to play the witch, and emulated the behaviors of crows and spiders to guide her movements.
“She’d still have some sass, but the physicality brings it out,” said Mott, who’s attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. “You shouldn’t be too serious when you do this. It’s still playing, so it should be fun.”
“MacKenzie is totally idolized by all who watched him inhabit the witch,” said Clawson, who used the Blue Stilly Players’ Friday dress rehearsal and official performances on Saturday and Sunday to collect food for the Arlington Community Food Bank.
Joshua Sibley helped make the play possible in its outdoor setting by serving as “Kiko,” the acrobatic mime who hands the other players their props.
“Everything we do out here is exposed to the audience, so by interacting with them directly as this whimsical, magical creature who makes things appear in people’s hands, it helps the suspension of disbelief,” Sibley said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever had to play a character totally non-verbally, so I put all my energy into it.”
The Blue Stilly Players will appear next in Legion Park, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, for the performance of Aesop’s Fables in the gazebo by the cast of children currently being taught by Weingarten, Mott and Andy Clawson.
“Watching these young people learn how to be professional actors, deal with stage fright, learn lines, blocking and stage direction, and probably the most magical of all, develop their own characters, has been a treat for me personally,” Bridget Clawson said. “We are just getting started, and the best is always yet to come.”
For more information on the nonprofit Blue Stilly Players, call 360-435-6223 or log onto their website at http://bluestillyplayers.com.