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Tom Sawyer draws in the kids


The Preacher (Kevin Stark, left, welcomes Deacon Brown (Josh Miller)

By Staff reporter, 2011-05-29
“Tom Sawyer”, the classic American favorite, opened last Friday at La Habra Depot Theatre with a cast of 29. Although a little out of the way for Anaheim audiences we report on this because well over half the teenage actors come from Anaheim schools, and because families who would like to take young children to see this show will be amply rewarded for the effort.

From the very start you are charmed by the children as they cascade on to the stage to tell the story of the little Mississippi scamp, played by Jarred Pena, soon to be joined by the other favorite, Huck Finn (Isaiah Villalpondo). La Habra Depot Theatre has a rule for its youth productions that no actor may be older than 18, but the actors who played the adults did so with considerable ability.

A steamboat arrives unloading its passengers, including Judge Thatcher (Alec Murdock) and Methodist Deacon Brown (Josh Miller) and his band of Methodist school girls, all of whom become happily enrolled in the St. Petersburg school run by Miss Dobbins (Cailin Grantham).


Tom explains to Becky the meaning of being engaged

Before long Tom finds his heart torn between his two love interests Amy Lawrence (Wynter Kirkpatrick) and Becky Thatcher (Alexandra Kraus).

Lovable Tom Sawyer is always getting into scrapes. His stern Aunt Polly (Sheila Victorin) soon reins in her ward by having him paint the fence. Before long Tom has tricked many of his friends to paint for him with the ploy that only very skilled artists would be able to accomplish such a task. Each has to pay a fee (a dog collar but no dog, a key that opens nothing, a dead rat) for the privilege of sharing in the work.

There are many conflicts in the play. Goody boy Sid, Tom’s cousin (Caleb Miller) constantly baits Tom, and Ben Rogers (Danny Montes) entangles Tom in a fight. Many of the boys form a gang whose mission is “piratin’ and robbin’”. All are sworn to secrecy, which is pretty nearly exploded when tousle-headed Tommy Barnes (five-year-old Brent Grantham) cries “I’m gonna to home and tell all the secrets!”

By the time we reach the intermission three of the boys have run away – sailing off down river on a raft. Deeper drama ensues with a murder! But you’ll have to buy tickets to see how that plays out.

Audiences have already been delighted by the costumes, the dancing (choreographer Kaitlin Tice) and the remarkably good acting skills of the actors.


Aunt Polly instructs Tom to whitewash the fence


The show is directed by Autumn Browne, theatre teacher from Brookhurst Junior High School who says, “What a lovely way to ease into summer – visiting a mischievous boy who just wants to spend his days swimmin’ and fishin’”. The mid-western set was devised and painted by Michael Buss and Nancy West (who painted a stunning backcloth). Many others from the La Habra team, including Alphonso Neavez (Producer) and Matt Washburn (Lighting) round out the production team.

The show runs until June 12th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2:30pm.
Box office: (562) 905-9625. La Habra Depot Theatre, 311 South Euclid St, La Habra, CA 90631. Tickets $15, $12 for seniors and students.

Complete cast list: Jarred Pena, Isaiah Villalpondo, Caleb Miller, Danny Montes, Alec Murdock, Luis Monzon, Brent Grantham, Orlando Franco, Briana Clegg, Alexandra Kraus, Kristen Sauceda, Wynter Kirkpatrick, Sheila Victorin, Cailin Grantham, Robert Thompson, Cameron Edwards, David Reyes, Kevin Stark, Alec Murdock, Josh Miller, Reese Grantham, Jacob Miller, Victoria Miller, Shelsea Victorin, Britni Murdock, Ashley Clegg, Bailey Shea, Ashley Montes, Jazmine Garcia.

Photos: Michael Buss

 

 

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