Troupe to premiere new children's play

The Seem-To-Be Players, Lawrence's professional children's theater, will stage the premiere of Ric Averill's "Tales from the Mesquite and Sage" next weekend at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

Shows will be at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. April 13. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors.

The play tells the story of Pedro Urdemales, a Southwestern Trickster (originally from Spain via South America and Central America), who meets a mysterious Duende (elf); faces a selfish landowner, Don Juan; gains a pair of magic shoes (zapatos magicos); and ultimately faces El Diablo de la Montana in order to reclaim his Grandfather's heritage.

Pedro is helped through his trials and troubles by Santo Nino, the boy Saint.

The production is directed by Jose Cruz Gonzales, who came to Lawrence in early March and helped Averill shape the production for its initial performances in Plano, Texas. The play is performed in about 15 percent Spanish.

Pedro is played by Tom Picasso; Juan the Bad Neighbor by Ric Averill; Teresa, Pedro's wife, Santo Nino, El Diablo and other characters by Heidi Van Middlesworth; and the Duende and other characters by Jason Ware. Stage manager for the company is Danny Rogovein.

Puppetry, costumes and picturesque Southwestern scenery pervade the show. Puppets were designed and built by Margaret Morris; costumes were designed and built by Jennifer Glenn; scenery was designed and painted by Monica Willes and built by Lee Saylor. Original music was composed by Ric Averill and is performed by Linda Maxey on Marimba, George Boberg on percussion, Tim Leopold on Trumpet, Chris Rogers on Contrabass and Ric Averill on Mandolin, with Jade Brown as Sound Engineer.

Following its Lawrence performances, the company will fly to Mesa, Ariz., where it will perform for 12 different school audiences in a predominantly bilingual community.

The play will tour Kansas during 2003-2004 and then nationally during 2004-2005.

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