M/sunny
56°
M/sunny
Hi 58° | Lo 28°

Exploring new territory

Andy’s Summer Playhouse: Kids to bring  to life murder mystery, space exploration

  • Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte  during a rehearsal of Andy's Summer Playhouse's upcoming production, "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy." Andy's will hold a season preview Saturday night. "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy" opens June 29.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte during a rehearsal of Andy's Summer Playhouse's upcoming production, "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy." Andy's will hold a season preview Saturday night. "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy" opens June 29.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Andy's Summer Playhouse in Wilton will be holding a preview of their summer season in a night of skits and music numbers on Saturday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Andy's Summer Playhouse in Wilton will be holding a preview of their summer season in a night of skits and music numbers on Saturday.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy," Andy's summer premiere, opens June 29. Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte of Wilton play Dr. Belgravius and Lady Flora in this murder-mystery story.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy," Andy's summer premiere, opens June 29. Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte of Wilton play Dr. Belgravius and Lady Flora in this murder-mystery story.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte  during a rehearsal of Andy's Summer Playhouse's upcoming production, "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy." Andy's will hold a season preview Saturday night. "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy" opens June 29.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte during a rehearsal of Andy's Summer Playhouse's upcoming production, "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy." Andy's will hold a season preview Saturday night. "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy" opens June 29.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte  during a rehearsal of Andy's Summer Playhouse's upcoming production, "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy." Andy's will hold a season preview Saturday night. "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy" opens June 29.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Andy's Summer Playhouse in Wilton will be holding a preview of their summer season in a night of skits and music numbers on Saturday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy," Andy's summer premiere, opens June 29. Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte of Wilton play Dr. Belgravius and Lady Flora in this murder-mystery story.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Chauney Krook of New Ipswich and Matthew Guyotte  during a rehearsal of Andy's Summer Playhouse's upcoming production, "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy." Andy's will hold a season preview Saturday night. "The Awdrey-Gore Legacy" opens June 29.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

Jay Leno. Jimmy Fallon. The David Letterman Show. Andy’s Summer Playhouse.

OK, so maybe Andy’s Summer Playhouse, a local nonprofit children’s theater program, isn’t quite up there with the talk show greats. But during a performance Saturday in preview of their first official show of the season next week, they’ll be giving it a try. On Saturday, the directors of this season’s performances will be pairing up with other Andy’s alums to present a preview in the style of a late night talk show, with jokes, skits, music and a witty host, played by Andy’s alumnus and Mason resident Brendan Wile.

The directors of all three of this year’s Andy’s premiers will be the “guests,” showing up for interviews about their productions, and giving the audience a taste of what’s to come through images or short films, and even a sneak preview of one of the songs from the traditional end-of-summer musical. And in between musical numbers, there will be skits to throw in some humor, including a lip syncing battle and a Top 10 list of shows that didn’t quite make it onto the Andy’s program this year, including “Library: The Quiet Musical.”

And the Andy’s alums will also be paying tribute to author C. W. Anderson — the inspiration for the theater’s name, Andy’s. Alumni and staff will be writing and performing their own installment of “Billy and Blaze,” one of Anderson’s book series about a pony and his boy: “Billy and Blaze vs. The Lumbering Lumberjacks.”

It’s all leading up to the Andy’s opening weekend on June 29, when Andy’s kids will present their first show of the season, “The Awdrey-Gore Legacy,” a murder mystery based on the macabre works of children’s author and illustrator Edward Gorey.

The show was written and will be directed by Shannon Sexton Potter of Providence, R.I. Sexton first got involved with Andy’s when she married DJ Potter, a former Wilton resident and Andy’s participant, who still returns each summer to direct productions. This will be Sexton’s second time directing a Andy’s show — the first was in 2010 when she led a revival of a Andy’s production of “Swiss Family Robinson.” But this year was the first opportunity for Sexton to write her own play, and she decided to focus on Gorey’s works. They have always fascinated her because though they are primarily thought to be aimed at children they are quite dark and mature. Since Andy’s material has always made a point of taking the kids and their skills seriously, and letting them tackle deeper subjects, she felt a tribute to his works would be a good fit. And, she was also really looking forward to putting on a murder mystery.

Sexton’s play is based on a mix of two of Gorey’s works — one also titled “The Awdrey-Gore Legacy” as well as “The Other Statue,” both murder mysteries. In Sexton’s version of the stories, a big party at Backwater Hall is interrupted when a body is discovered in the fountain on the property. While a famous detective joins the scene to solve the case, the children of the house set out on their own mystery to discover the whereabouts of a lost stuffed animal.

It was a goal of hers to use the interesting character designs portrayed in Gorey’s works to create individual characters, Sexton said. “It’s very easy with kids to give them very general characters. But Edward Gorey gives us so many amazing characters, I decided we’re really going to use them. It’s been a challenge, but it’s also been a joy to see these kids in these really individual, quirky roles,” she said.

With the intricate characters come the intricate costumes imagined by Gorey, which Sexton said is fun for the kids. There are a lot of fur coats and a mix of fashion time periods beginning in Edwardian times through the 1930s, Sexton said.

“It’s a fun challenge to create characters that are larger than life, and have the kids push themselves to be almost more of a cartoon character on stage, rather than something more natural,” said DJ Potter, a Andy’s alum, formerly from Wilton, who wrote and will be directing this summer’s musical, which will be staged in August.

Sexton is also a student of movement theater, which she incorporated into the play.

“There’s a lot of little things [the young actors] do to use their bodies to tell the story, and not just the script,” said Sexton. “Which is pretty new to them.”

“We’re working with a lot more movement than we’re used to,” said Potter. “But the kids have taken well to it, and I’m really excited to see their take on it on stage.

As “The Awdrey-Gore Legacy” wraps up, the cast will begin preparing for the next show in the season lineup: “The Little Prince,” directed by Jared Mezzocchi of Brooklyn, N.Y., which will be staged in July. Mezzocchi, an Andy’s alum, said an adaptation of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery book was one of the first performances he was involved in at Andy’s, and he wanted to bring a new reimagining to the stage in July. The story follows an aviator as he grows up through childhood to become an adult, and his crash landing in the desert. At the same time the other main character, the titular “Little Prince,” is an alien being on a small planet who travels through space, meeting several odd characters until meeting up with the aviator on Earth.

Andy’s third production will also be sending it’s characters through space, in a musical adaptation of the harrowing experience of the crew of the Apollo 13’s failed attempt at a lunar landing. As always, the final production will be a musical.

Andy’s season preview is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at 582 Isaac Frye Highway. Tickets are $5 at the door. “The Awdrey-Gore Legacy” runs from June 29 through July 6. “The Little Prince” will run July 20 through July 27. “Apollo 13,” a musical, will run Aug. 9 through Aug. 17. Show tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for youths aged 12 and younger. For more information and tickets for the shows, contact Andy’s Summer Playhouse, visit www.andyssummerplayhouse.org.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.