Archive for Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Community theater making return run

Youngsters to be paid through grant for work on “The Odd Couple”

May 19, 2004

The Tonganoxie Community Theater is back.

After a four-year hiatus, the group has returned with different characters.

Tonganoxie High School teacher John Robison will direct "The Odd Couple," a play by Neil Simon. But the production will be more than a community play. Through a work study program provided by the Kansas Department of Human Resources, Robison and fellow teachers Chris Delay and Steve Harrell will instruct area students on all aspects of organizing and promoting a play.

For students to qualify for the work study, they must meet low-income and individualized educational program criteria. Students also must be from Leavenworth County.

Delay said he observed a similar program at Leavenworth High and then applied for a work study grant for THS. Students will work six hours per day with time split between the classroom and the stage.

"We're excited about providing those opportunities for the kids," Delay said.

The work study will ultimately will bring $43,000 to the area, Delay said, through student wages and the purchasing of materials in the community.

The class will run from June 1 through July 12 with performances being staged July 9-10.

As for the play itself, organizers will be in search of six men and two women from the community to play. Cast members must be between 15 and 65.

Auditions will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Tonganoxie High School auditorium. Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script.

The community theater production will be the first in about four years, said Art Hancock, who performed in roughly 20 productions with the theater.

"I think that's wonderful," Hancock said about this year's production. "I'm very glad."

Hancock, whose favorite role was Mr. Bumble in "Oliver," said he's not sure whether he'll audition for "The Odd Couple."

"Mr. Harrell's talked to me about it and I haven't decided yet," Hancock said.

The community theater started in 1979, and depending on how successful this year's grant is, the theater could continue with future work studies.

Delay said the ideal number of students would be 20, but at this point there could be more or fewer.

He already has taken some applications for the work study.

Harrell said he, Delay and Robison are eager to start the summer program and get the community theater back in gear.

"We're going to see what happens here," Harrell said. "We're pretty positive. It's a lot of work but it can be real rewarding."

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