VPR goes backstage with ‘The Princess and the Pea’

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(Host) At Quarryworks, the local theater company in Adamant, one of the missions is to introduce young people to the stage. This summer the company is performing the classic fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.”

VPR’s Lynne McCrea takes us backstage.

(McCrea) In the hills north of Montpelier is the tiny village of Adamant. Its main intersection consists of two dirt roads, the food co-op, and one lively waterfall. A short walk takes you to the Adamant Music School, which has been the inspiration for the local theater company. The group, now in its fifth year, is called “Quarryworks” because its small theater is built on the site of an old granite quarry.

Today four actors, one musician, and the director, Rosann Hickey, are getting ready to rehearse their second production of the season. It’s a classic fairy tale, “The Princess and the Pea”.

(Hickey) “We made the decision when we started up that we wanted to do a children’s show every year because, if you want to keep theater going, you have to build your audience. And there’s nothing for building audience like bringing them in when they’re young.”

(Sounds from a dinner table) “Chicken pot pie, and tossed salad .”

(McCrea) And there’s nothing for building a community of actors like feeding them. At Quarryworks, that means dinner first, then rehearsal, as Rosann Hickey explains:

(Hickey) “Most people are coming from work – they have day jobs! Some people come quite a distance, so by the time they get here – and we are at the back of beyond this is a very rural area. There are not a lot of diners around the corner, so this is one of the nice things the Adamant Community Cultural Foundation does, is support the fact that they feed you and then you work. And that’s nice.

“And the first thing we hear is music, bumba bumba bumba bumba! Classic fairy tales, done relatively straight, aren’t being done that much. In our version, this is the commedia version, so in our version, the audience comes in, sits down, and this ragtag group of players comes on. Strolling players, who are rather seedy .”

(Sounds of actors entering the stage) “What is taking you so long?” “I can’t find my coat!” “I’m ready.” “Where’s my moustache?” “Ow! Get off my foot!”

(Hickey) “They look around and decide this is the perfect place to put on a show, because there is an audience here and that they’re going to do the ‘Princess and The Pea.'”

(Narrator) “Now, this is the story of the Princess and the Pea.”

(Hickey) “The Princess and the Pea is the story of a prince who would like to find a princess, and a mother would like to not be ‘dispossessed.’ The dramatic tension lies in the fact that the prince wants to get someone and the queen doesn’t want him to.”

(Sounds from rehearsal) “No! No! You’re much too young to be married!” “But I’m 35 years old!” “A mere child!”

(McCrea) This comedy offers humor and audience interaction. And like all good fairy tales, in the end true love prevails. But whatever the moral of the story, for Rosann Hickey, the message is to experience theater:

(Hickey) “You’re giving some people their very first experience of theater. And this is both a challenge (laugh) and a terrific reward because, as much as children are exposed to TV and movies, and videos, nothing equals the immediacy of seeing a flesh and blood person that you can reach out and touch, come up to you and say ‘Would you like to see a show?!’ That’s magic! There’s nothing like that, other than real live theater!”

(McCrea) For VPR Backstage, I’m Lynne McCrea in Adamant.

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