by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts presented their Annual Children’s Show on January 16, 17, 18 in the Black Box Theatre on the school’s campus in Southside Jacksonville.
The Dual Critics look forward to this annual show for a couple of reasons. DA always makes creative use of this theatre space, and each show is always different and a surprise for the audience. And although billed as a children’s show, adults get as much enjoyment and entertainment as the children who attend. In fact, on opening night on the 16th, with the theatre filled to capacity, adults and teenagers outnumbered the younger set .
Crockette Johnson wrote the now classic “Harold and the Purple Crayon” in 1955. Myron Johnson adapted it for the stage, with music and lots of parts for talented young adults.
Since this is an after the fact review, we will not delve deeply into the story, but will give you an overview , that will hopefully inspire you to pick up a copy for your children or grandchildren to enjoy, and put a note on your calendar to bring them to next year’s production at DA.
This is the story of Harold, who has a vivid imagination and in this case appears to be somewhere between ten and twelve years old. He’s skilled at drawing characters, creatures, settings, and props with a purple crayon; he then entertains himself by playing with his creations. David Emanuel played this lead role, wearing colorful blue pajamas. David does some singing but this agile young man is obviously a dance major at DA as he showed us in a short ballet number.
Mother (Emily Greene) is supportive of the daydreams that he brings to life with his crayon. Danielle Green plays the affirming Narrator, who guides Harold through his adventures and, in one of the final scenes of this 45-minute play, sings him to sleep with the song “Lullaby.”
Harold has a nemesis, however, as Mr. Smudge (Riley Hillyer), the very odd acting and odd looking host of a children’s TV show, keeps stealing Harold’s purple crayon.
Harold’s crayon drawings were done on large white sheets on the backdrop and took him along with the audience from his bedroom to a lively circus complete with a Ringmaster (Hays Jacobs), an underwater world, outer space; and a funky night club called Club Smudge.
All of this is accomplished by the large student cast each playing from three to five roles from stick figures to circus performers, fish, cowboys and space creatures. Romeo and Juliet even make a brief appearance in one scene.
The cast, in the order they appeared in the program included Alec Consentino, Kamari Saxon, Kenya Lipplett, Destini Hamilton, Zach Ignacio, Lexis Willis, Essence Williams, Chelsey Cain,Sade Santos, Sophie Luedi, Julian Robertson and Veronica Vale.
The Band principally used bongo drums to play the lively music to which the dynamic and talented peformers danced and danced and frolicked with gusto for the entire show. In the band were Sawyer Chubin, Darius Brown, Michael J. Moody Jr. and Tj Lauderbough.
Artistic Director DeWitt Cooper and his large student cast and crew did an excellent job making “Harold and the Purple Crayon” come alive for everyone. We’re looking forward to next year.
HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM