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Please sir, I want some more

Wren Wertin
Quentin HunstadThe Children's Theatre School culminates in two performances of "Oliver." The musical has become a family project for many locals, as parents get as involved as their kids.
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Under the direction of stage veteran Gretta Assaly, Eagle County youth – and many of their parents – will present “Oliver” today and Monday at Ford Amphitheater at 7 p.m.

Assaly’s pet project is the Children’s Theatre School, a month-long workshop that culminates in a performance.

“The purpose is to give children who might love theater a chance to find a niche for themselves,” said Assaly. “Someone might be shy but through theater have a chance to claim their corner of the world.”



She’s been traveling to Vail each summer for 10 years now, as the Children’s Theatre School (usually based in Wisconsin) is still popular. They performed “Oliver” years ago, and many of the kids – especially those whose older siblings were in it – wanted the opportunity to perform it.

Scott McClure, 10, had never been on the stage before, but managed to coerce his father, Mike, into giving it a try with him.



“I like to be on the stage,” said Scott. “You get to sing and dance and stuff.”

A fan of plays, he names “The Lion King” as his favorite musical. Because Scott was enthralled with the idea of being on stage, Mike allowed himself to be talked into participating, too.

“It’s a great opportunity to do something with my son,” said Mike, who gets to play “the bad guy.”



Sally Corcoran’s daughters Cassidy, 10, and Alexa, 12, also wanted their mom to be in the musical. Last year the three worked together on “Cinderella,” so they knew what they were in for.

“It’s better this way because our parents know what’s going on,” said Alexa.

“But when she does one of her songs, it’s kind of embarrassing,” added Cassidy.

Sally will keep performing with her daughters as long as they ask her to do so.

“They’re busy with this so much, it’s great bo be here with them,” she said. “And it’s so much fun to work with Gretta. She can direct 50 kids at one time. I’m trying to learn something from her.”

What are they giving up to spend four to seven hours a day, five days a week, rehearsing?

“Playing with our friends at night,” said Cassidy.

“Playing with our friends all the time,” said her sister.

Yet another stage dynasty is Diana Honey Kiss and her daughter Jillian Kiss, 9. Diana has been taking Jillian to performances since she was 2, just waiting for her to be old enough to audition. They, too, were in “Cinderella” last year, one of the highlights of the summer.

Diana, better known as Diana Honey on KTUN, led a workshop within the workshop on writing ads for the radio. Each child was given a different demographic for which to write. Some of them can be heard on the radio now, such as “Tickets, Wonderful Tickets,” a play on the popular “Food, Wonderful Food” song that is part of the “Oliver” score.

Misha and Jenna Harrison, 9, are at home on the stage, though this is the first play they’ve been in.

“It’s kind of exciting,” Jenna confided.

She’s been in dance recitals before, so the dancing parts come naturally to her. They both play orphans.

“The singing is the best part,” said Misha. “I like the song “I’d Do Anything.'”

“Oliver” has two performances with two sets of leads in order for everyone to get a chance to shine. The voices of the cast are surprisingly strong, and dancing while singing doesn’t seem to faze anyone.

“In theater you have to have your own journey, your own path to follow,” said Assaly. “The excitement is that those paths intersect with others’ paths. The challenge is putting it all together.”

Tickets are $6 for children and $15 for adults. To purchase call the amphitheater box office at 476-2918 or visit the Vail Public Library.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.


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