Tom Sawyer comes to life through Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre

The Rightful King of France’s allies pose for a photo following the first of two performances in Greenbush of the PFCT play, Tom Sawyer, which included a stage cast of 22 youth and two PFCT adult directors/actors. Pictured above are: Gabe Curfman, Julia Dostal, Ari Kuznia, Alec Beito, and Nathan Gust. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

The ghouls and bat (second one to the left) strike a pose following the first performance of the PFCT play, Tom Sawyer, in Greenbush last week. They are: Audrey Gust, Maddi Arnesen, Bella Burkel, and Teagan Landsrud. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

The cast of the Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre play, Tom Sawyer, posed for a group photo following the first of its two performances on the Greenbush-Middle River School stage on June 29. They are (L-R): First Row: Audrey Gust, Maddi Arnesen, Bella Burkel, and Teagan Landsrud; Second Row: Julia Dostal, Ari Kuznia, Alec Beito, and Nathan Gust. Third Row: Avery Beito, Will Foss, Sierra Landsrud, Rose Cudnik, and Amity Foss; Back Row: Landon Nelson, Francis Cudnik, Chance Christian, Elizabeth Gust, Josephine Wade, Ava Novacek, Anissah Novacek, Evie Janousek, and Gabe Curfman. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

The cast sang this question to the play’s main character, “Tom Sawyer, tell to, who put the lizard in the split pea soup?”
Despite Sawyer professing his innocence, the cast answers its question by stating, “You, you, you, you, you, you, YOU!”
The cast sang this line to this mischievous youngster– the main character– towards the beginning and at the very end of this year’s Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre (PFCT) play titled Tom Sawyer on Friday, June 29 in the Greenbush school site gym. This provided children not only the chance to spend some time on the stage, but also enjoy themselves with those they know and don’t know.
Prior to doing two shows on that Friday, two PFCT directors and thespians Mikhayla Clausen, who played Aunt Polly, and Joel Crumbley, who played The Rightful King of France, led the group of 22 youth through five days of rehearsals. On Monday, they hold a two-hour audition and two-hour rehearsal. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, they hold four-hour rehearsals. On Friday, prior to their two performances, they do one dress rehearsal.
“We tell the kids that not even Broadway does it in five days, so they are literally already way better than the people on Broadway because they have to memorize lines by Wednesday,” Crumbley said. “That’s only a day and half with your script and that is unheard of in the actual professional community, so it takes a lot of attention, but I think since we do it so quickly, we don’t give them anytime to forget it.”
Following their first performance, two of the youth thespians, Chance Christian and Elizabeth Gust, commented on what they enjoyed most about PFCT. Christian said he enjoyed the chance to act and perform in front of others.
“It’s a lot of work to remember, memorize, your lines but it’s really fun when you do and you always will have a great time,” Christian said.
Elizabeth enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with others, including the directors, who she described as “awesome.”
“Not even just on stage, but behind the scenes, it’s really fun. Everyone’s laughing all the time,” Gust said.
As Clausen emphasized, PFCT is about more than putting on a play. It teaches  communication and teamwork skills, lessons they can use later in life. It also leads to some new relationships and a newly discovered confidence, as Crumbley, Christian, and Gust pointed out.
“A lot of the kids who aren’t from this town, they walk in on Monday and they don’t know a single kid, but by Friday they’re best friends,” Crumbley said. “It helps those kids who kind of feel outcast during the school year; it helps them break out of their shell, be able to play a character and not to mention hang out with their friends and be able to have fun in that way.”
Gust said this about the relationship aspect of PFCT, “I’ve met like three people here that I’m really good friends with now. I never would have met them if I didn’t do it.”
The Greenbush Area Friends of the Library made this drama opportunity a reality and ensured youth didn’t have to pay for it thanks to grant writing and fundraising. Judy Pulczinski reported that PFCT would return to Greenbush sometime in June 2019. For more information on PFCT, visit prairiefirechildrenstheatre.com.
To see the full story, read the July 4 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

1 Comment

  1. dave keicker on July 7, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Mrs. Harper (Josephine Wade?) performed with such enthusiasm and had such great interaction with the other actors. I loved the play. They all did such a great Job. Thank you to all those that put this terrific show on!!

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