ETC Original Musical Theatre Adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans

January 13th, 2012 by Elizabeth


Things Surely Strange and Wonderfully Wondrous
Jan. 25-29 at Hanaway Theatre

Set Design by PSU Professor Matt Kizer

PLYMOUTH, N.H.—The award-winning Educational Theatre Collaborative (ETC) at Plymouth State University will premiere an original two-act musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s  fairy tale The Wild Swans, Wednesday­–Sunday, Jan. 25–29 in the Hanaway Theatre at the Silver Center for the Arts on Main Street in Plymouth.

The performances culminate three weeks of integrated arts experiences including workshops for children, teachers and artists, and a children’s art exhibition.

The Wild Swans tells the story of a princess, Eliza, and her 11 brothers, who have been cast out by their stepmother; the brothers turned to swans by a magic spell. With courage, perseverance and sacrifice, Eliza is able to break the spell, restore her brothers, marry a handsome king and live happily ever after.

“As a world premiere and original production, we do not have the benefit of past productions to draw from,” says playwright and director Trish Lindberg. “Everything we do is being done for the first time—the staging, the choreography, the original music score, the scenic and lighting designs and the special effects. It is an exhilarating process that I am grateful to be sharing with so many gifted individuals.”

Theatre is often about illusion, and there is always plenty of magic in ETC productions. From a striking set and projections designed by PSU Associate Professor of Theatre, Theatre Design and Technology Matt Kizer and built by Silver Center staff, to glittering glowworms, ghouls, sorcery, “a wild and woeful sea,” magic coats, toads turned into roses, and things “mighty marvelous, surely strange and wonderfully wondrous,” the magic lives on throughout the production.

Lindberg says, “Andersen’s stories tug at the heart and always involve some type of sacrifice. To free her brothers, Eliza must endure real pain and sacrifice. The magical elements of the story do not keep the heroine from experiencing the reality of her sacrifice.”

Dr. Joe Casey (Archbishop) and Josh Walden (King)

The 75-member intergenerational cast includes a local physician, a restaurateur, a university dean, a professional actor from Providence, R.I., an interpreter for the deaf from Weare, theatre arts majors from Plymouth State University, a Broadway actor and numerous area citizens, high school students and children from 18 towns. The main characters are:

King: Josh Walden, a KAT Company (New London) veteran of more than eight years and graduate in musical theatre of NYU’s Tisch School, now a Broadway actor, producer and choreographer. (This actor appears through the courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the U.S.)

Hans Christian Andersen:  Professional actor and educator Robb Dimmick of Providence, R.I.

Eliza: Alyssa Dumas, a PSU sophomore theatre arts major from Manchester

Walden and Alyssa Dumas (Eliza)

Eliza’s Father: Tim Keefe, PSU Dean of Students from Plymouth

Evil Queen: Melissa Furbish, a junior interdisciplinary studies major from Plymouth

Archbishop: Joe Casey, a physician from Holderness

Old Woman: Karen Braz, an interpreter for the deaf from Weare

Prince William: Luke Meierdierks, a PSU junior theatre arts major from St. Johnsbury, Vt.

Prince Christian: DJ Spinelli, a PSU senior psychology major from Chester

Prince Gabriel: Olivia Etchings from No. Woodstock

Composer Will Ögmundson says creating a musical score is a collaborative process. “Trish Lindberg writes lovely lyrics which she sends to me, and very often the melodies seem to leap off the page at me. I feel more as if I’m catching them than creating them.” Ögmundson, also music director for the production, is a classically trained professional pianist from Sutton who is well known as a performer and composer through the region. He also composed the score for Pollyanna, another ETC original musical, which was performed at Plymouth State in 2008 and has recently been published.

PSU Dance Director Amanda Whitworth and Walden choreographed the show. They have created dances that allow an element of imagination to seep into the performance … a style of dance that will be interpreted differently among members of the audience. Whitworth is fusing theatrical dancing with more contemporary movement, and she says Walden is a master storyteller through movement. “Of course there are bold, sweeping dances characteristic of Broadway musicals, but the fun of this project is that it allows for experimentation,” Whitworth says.

Performances are January 25-28 at 7 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. January 28 and 29.

Tickets are $26­–22 for adults; $22-18 for seniors, $20–16 for youth at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869. Tickets for groups of 15 or more purchased at the same time are $14 in B seating only. Tickets are also available online at silver.plymouth.edu.

General information about PSU events is online at ThisWeek@PSU, http://thisweek.blogs.plymouth.edu.