College fall musical will have local look


Hillsboro Middle School students Leighton Wagner (left) and Vance Klassen practice a scene from the Tabor College fall musical, ?Children of Eden.? Wagner plays the biblical character Cain as a child while Klassen portrays his brother, Abel. Their first public performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7.

When the curtain rises next week on the Tabor College fall musical production ?Children of Eden,? Hillsboro-area residents will see the contributions of numerous local children as well as friends and neighbors.

The production, based on the first few chapters of Genesis in the Bible, will open at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, with repeat performances on Thurs?day, Friday and Saturday nights as well as 2 p.m. Sunday.

Nine of the 19 cast members listed are Hillsboro High School graduates, and 17 local children of elementary and middle school age will be part of the ?Noah?s Ark? scene and other appearances.

Behind the scenes, Hillsboro residents Lily Arthur, Delora Kaufman and Becky Lindsay have contributed their artistic sense to developing the costumes, with Kaufman and Lindsay focusing on the animal costumes needed for the ?Noah?s Ark? scene.

Peter Bartel, a local Tabor College student, is helping to build the stage and props.

Involving community people in her productions is nothing new to director Judy Harder. But the abundance of them this fall is the result of local talent combined with practical need.

?Our normal set designer is out of the picture for a year (because of health issues),? Harder said, ?and that meant more opportunity for other people to step up.?

Arthur, an accountant at Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball in Hillsboro, has assisted Harder for five or six shows now.

?She?s almost become a stage manager or assistant director,? Harder said.

Adding the talents of Kaufman, children?s librarian at the local public library, and Lindsay, an academic skills aide at the high school, is a first.

?I?ve been pleasantly surprised by Delora Kaufman and Becky Lindsay?s skills,? Harder said. ?They?ve done a great job with the animal costumes.

?Lily, Delora and Becky have all done a fun, creative job,? she added. ?We call it a low-budget ?Lion King.??

Recruiting children for college productions has been both rewarding and challenging over the years, Harder said.

?It seems half of them, or even more, are very interested in watching all of (rehearsals) even though they have small parts,? Harder said of this fall?s recruits. ?Seeing their interest make me more interested again in summer theater for kids.?

Working with youngsters carries challenges, too.

?I think the honest acting you find is hard to keep consistent,? Harder said. ?They sometimes get bored or it gets routine or mechanical. That the toughest thing?to keep it fresh like the first time.?

Harder said the contributions of local volunteers will enhance the engaging story and music of ?Children of Eden.?

?The writer respects the (Genesis) stories, and the intrigue the composers bring with it is a focus on family dynamics,? she said. ?The father in the story often says, if you love me, if you love the family, consider your choices and what your actions are going to be.?

At the same time, she added, the writers don?t rigidly follow the biblical narrative?but that doesn?t lessen the truth.

?I hope people can view this as a story of awe and adventure,? Harder said. ?That?s how I can do it with integrity.

?At the end, there?s this: Of all the gifts we have received, one of the most precious and most terrible is that the will of each of us is free. We have to choose.

?The desire and love of the parent (God) that we would choose an alignment is so strong?but out of the same deep love we are allowed a choice. That?s biblical, in my mind.?

Harder said the underlying theme is about second chances.

?That doesn?t mean it?s heavy ?it has wonderful humor in this,? she added.

Likewise, Harder said the students have found the energetic musical to be engaging. The composer, Stephen Schwartz, also wrote music for ?Godspell? and ?Wicked.?

?I like the music and I think the students like the music?and they have the voices for it,? Harder said. ?I haven?t been in as many rehearsals with goose bumps than with this.?

Brad Vogel, professor of choral music, is providing musical direction.

Ticket prices for ?Children of Eden? are $10 for adults and $8 for students. Seating is limited and reserved and reservations must be made by calling Kaylene Unruh in the Student Development Office, at 620-947-3121, ext. 1033.

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