Travel to ‘Toyland’ for family enchantment
In a first-time collaboration, Carson High School’s Capitol Stars and the BACStage Kids from the Brewery Arts Center are joining talents in a production of “Babes in Toyland,” which opens Friday.
The story is based on a 1903 operetta by Victor Herbert that was made into a Disney movie in 1961 starring Annette Funicello.
“We looked at seven adaptations and settled on this one,” said Karen Chandler, drama instructor at Carson High School. “It has all the classic music,” including “March of the Toys.”
It’s also a great play to take children to and even to introduce small children to the theater, Chandler said. “It’s a really cute show. The music is light and none of the songs is too long. There’s a lot of dance and movement in them.”
“Babes in Toyland” weaves together characters from Mother Goose nursery rhymes, including innocent Mary Contrary who is in love with Alan. The villainous Barnaby plots to win Mary to himself. Mary flees to Toyland where the toys come to life and help vanquish the bad guy.
“It’s classic, classic good versus evil, with good prevailing,” Chandler said. “Evil is comical. It’s very much for small children.”
The production includes 18 thespians from Carson Performing Arts Capitol Stars, the high school drama program. Another nine performers from BACStage Kids play gypsies and toys.
Carson High student Tracy Morris stars as Mary Contrary, Christopher Wortman as Alan, and Dakota Dutcher as the villain Barnaby.
The high school drama students have used the Brewery for practices and performances for years. It’s been a tradition to stage their Christmas show since Chandler recreated the high school program 17 years ago. The high school does not have a theater of its own and the Brewery allows them to use theirs without charge.
However, this is the first play that the two programs worked together onstage.
Andie Anderson, the artistic director of BACStage Kids, and BAC voice instructor Briana Valley are former students of Chandler’s, which has made the collaboration extra special.
“I’m still (Anderson’s) mentor, but we’ve moved into this whole new level,” Chandler said. With Anderson and Valley, “it’s so gratifying to watch my theories and teaching passed down to another generation.”
The young actors with BACStage Kids have also impressed Chandler, who said they learn quickly and when called on to sit still for chunks of time while other performers practice, they watch quietly.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the level of professionalism, down to 7 years old, that we’re getting from these kids.”