Training Wheels

Training Wheels

Lilly shows up at school one day with her prized possession — the keenest purple plastic purse you’ve ever seen — and is so distracted by the marvelousness of her treasure that she interrupts the teacher’s lesson and suffers appropriate consequences. Who among us can’t relate to Lilly’s disappointment and embarrassment? How she handles these emotions is at the heart of Trike Theatre’s production of “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” opening this week at the Walton Arts Center. Trike artistic director Kassie Misiewicz says, as a parent, she found lots to use as life lessons in Kevin Henkes’ tale about Lilly.

“I adored the books when my kids were little,” says Misiewicz, who gets the rare opportunity to act in this production, appearing as Lilly’s mother. “It’s very poignant. We get to understand Lilly’s disappointment when the teacher won’t let her share her awesome purse, and then she feels regretful and remorseful when she does something bad. She has to go and apologize. She’s the lead character, but she’s flawed, just like the rest of us.”

In fact, says Misiewicz, there’s a lot to learn from the character of Lilly.

“She’s not afraid of being herself,” says Misiewicz. “She wears Band-Aids to make herself feel brave. She’ll introduce herself to new people. She’s creative and artistic and has a lot of dreams about who she wants to be. My kids loved Lilly — her personality, her spunkiness. She’s bold and brave.”

But don’t get the wrong idea — there’s a lot of fun along with the life lessons.

“I love the script,” says Trike executive director Paul Savas. “It’s so playful and fun and has these colorful lines like, ‘I just sent your brother into outer space. ’ It’s a really good time for a variety of ages, and it has some great jokes for parents and kids.

“Our lighting designer, Shannon Miller, is using a lot of black lights on the entire set. The props and costumes are literally going to glow. Michael Riha, the set designer, has created a truly whimsical set — lots of ramps, lots of bright colors, some great shapes, great levels. There’s even a fireman’s pole down which a few people will slide. Good fun!”

Sixteen Northwest Arkansas kids — from ages 8 to 17 — appear in the show in two separate casts.

“What I love about this is that all of the kids in the cast will immediately resonate with our young audiences,” says Misiewicz. “A lot of children’s theater will have adults playing the kids in the production, but what I love about this is that the kids bring their own life experiences to these characters. The emotional world of the characters and their journey is heightened, because it’s a young artist playing and experiencing that imaginary world of the characters.”

Misiewicz says that many of the young actors you’ll see on stage in this production have learned stagecraft from Trike’s classes and camps.

“It’s not mandatory, but you can tell when a young person comes to audition if they’ve had prior training,” she says. “We look for that. I would say the majority of the kids have been training with us for at least last year, if not longer. A number of them started off in our summer youth theater productions, and we have auditions coming up in April for those. We’re trying to make this a really vibrant training for your young performers, because we know that when kids see other kids on stage, a lot of them are going to want to do that.”

“We are registering kids for the summer camps now,” adds Savas. The camps are going to be run in both Bentonville and Springdale, and registration is available through the website.

The production is the second that Trike has performed at the Walton Arts Center. Its holiday production of “Charlotte’s Web ” sold out nearly every school and public performance and reached 3,700 audience members. Savas encourages those interested in seeing “Lilly” to get their tickets as soon as possible at the Walton Arts Center website.



‘Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse’

WHEN — 7 p.m. April 13; 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. April 14 and 21; 6:30 p.m. April 30

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $9-$15

INFO — 443-5600

Categories: Family Friendly