Double feature: ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ and ‘Hard Candy’ aim to entertain

By : 
Jordan Gerard

The next two weeks will feature two children’s productions, one about potential employees who will do anything to climb their way up the financial ladder, and another featuring the classic tale of a self-centered emperor who just wants some new clothes.

‘Hard Candy’

The first production will show Aug. 2 through 4 at Trollskogen Park, at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are not necessary; just pay at the door.

This play features kids entering seventh through ninth grade. It’s survival of the fittest, as job applicants at Banff Enterprises will do anything to climb the corporate ladder.

Through many different tricks and techniques and a series of fast-paced hilarious interviews, these applicants use every trick in the book – from bribery, nepotism and the “Old Boy Network” to blackmail and mind control.

It’s a hilarious race to see who gets hired. With a cast of just six, almost every cast member has two roles, says director Kaitlin Bratland.

“Every practice is so fun,” she said. “These kids are having a blast with this show. They cannot wait to show off all their hard work next week!”

‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’

The second production will show Aug. 9 through 11, at 7:30 p.m. each night at the Ye Olde Opera House on Main Street.

This play features children entering grades second through sixth and is directed by Claire Bratland.

A vain emperor rules the land and obsesses about the newest and fanciest clothes. Because of that, he neglects the needs of citizens in his kingdom.

The story is narrated by three hardworking maids as the emperor is conned by two tricksters into parading through town in his special “birthday suit,” says Bratland.

With a cast of 21 playing out this classic tale, there is a lot of fun being had on stage.

“The kids are having a ton of fun. Sometimes they have too much fun, and it is hard to get them to stay quiet while we are running a scene,” Bratland said. “They are just so excited to perform this show for all of their friends and family.”

Some young actors and actresses had already memorized their lines by the second week of practice. Bratland attributes their hard work to determination and good work ethic at rehearsal.

“I get questions almost every day from the kids wondering when they will get their costumes and when we will start running the entire show all together,” Bratland said.

Importance of theatre

Spring Grove has a rich history of producing theatrical productions in the community and at school. At school, sixth graders have the privilege of starring in an annual musical.

Beyond elementary, seventh through 12th graders can participate in a fall play, one-act show and spring play. Oftentimes the productions are dinner theatres or musicals, in addition to comedies and drama.

In the community, Ye Olde Opera House hosts the summer musical in July each year. Depending on the production, sometimes children of all ages are needed in the cast, such as 2018’s production of “Annie,” two productions of “The Sound of Music” and “The Music Man.”

They also host children’s productions each summer, fostering a fondness for theatre and desire to participate.

“I think it is so important for young children to be involved in theatre because it teaches kids to work together to create something that they can be proud to show their friends and families,” Claire said. 

Her sister Kaitlin agreed and said community theatre opportunities allow children to step away from the real world and put on some different shoes for a while.

“Being in plays when you are young can often develop into a life-long love of theatre, which Spring Grove nourishes with both its school and community theatre,” Kaitlin said.

In addition to creating shows for audiences, the theatre experiences introduce youth to other youth from towns outside of Spring Grove and bring out friendships.

“These kids of experiences can give you great friends,” Kaitlin added. “Through theatre, kids can sometimes step outside their comfort zone and experience being someone else as they bring a character to life.”

Claire adds there’s a transformation in kids when they first start theatre to their first show.

“It is incredible to watch kids who are normally shy and reserved participate in theatre because they open up so much and feel comfortable just having fun with their friends on stage,” she said. “It is an amazing experience for these children to be a part of a show like this, and I hope that their experience with this show will encourage them to continue to be involved in theatre in the future.”

‘Hard Candy’ Cast

Ty Cleven ....... Fred and Adam

Landon Oitzman .....Carl and Ira

Alisa Moran ....... Emily and Jill

Josh Newgaard...... Bob and Jim

Russell Thies ... Dave and Harry

Kennedy Holdmeyer ....... Linda

‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’

Emperor….......…Ayden Collins

1st Maid.......…Grace Torgerson

2nd Maid…….…Kylie Hammel

3rd Maid…..Addison Halverson

Citizen 1/Connie...............Izabel Kaufmann 

Citizen 2/Jip……...Lillian Thies

Baroness……...….Madison Lile

Chamberlain 1….Roland Bjerke

Chamberlain 2….............Karson Betcher

Russian Dresser…...........Kinley Holdmeyer

French Dresser................Kaylee Stokman

Italian Dresser………........Addy Kessler

Old Citizen…………Joey Jaster

Military Citizen……..........Ruby Engeldinger

Teacher Citizen…....Siri Konkel

Poor Citizen………..........Carlie Halverson

Child 1…………........Kya Deck

Child 2…………..Kamrin Thies

Citizen/Dresser.......Ezra Konkel

Citizen/Dresser................Lauren Hammel

Citizen/Dresser...................Kiah Lundgren