Director Shannon Bowen brought her love of the book into the production; her touch was evident in the attitudes, gestures and characterizations. AND it was a musical! Kudos to music directors Sarah Hayner and Isaac Orr. (I was not able to see who was at the piano, and it was not specified in the program, but whoever was at the keyboard, the accompaniment was very good, as was the transitional music between scenes. The versatile set shifted between home, school, and the swinging-rope leap to the magical land of Terabithia. (Set crew head Emily Miller-Purrenhage)
Gabriel D’Valantine and Penelope Joy charmed us all as the alienated boy and the outsider-new girl — both with lovely soprano voices. Olivia Sokol was adorably little-sister bratty as May Belle. Katherine Hawthorne and Aidan Crumpton were Jesse’s pragmatic parents, facing their own challenges, one of whom was older sister Brenda (Sara Downs) a demanding teen. Caitlyn Shaw stood out as the bully, Janice, bringing not only humor and motivation for revenge, but also unexpected pathos. Mia Colony was the benevolent teacher, also an accomplished musician, playing guitar and leading an animated and distinctive group of students: Henry Nawyn-Hellinga, Bri Vanzwoll, Lucia Frost, Madeline Shangeraw, Raphael Gold and Preston Delacruz.
This is a full length show dealing with complicated emotions, not ideal for preschool/younger elementary audience members. My 9 and 12 year old companions approved and became more involved and less fidgety as the story wound on — a good sign.
The Bridge to Terabithia continues through February 18, 7 pm Fridays, 2 and 7 pm Saturdays and 2pm Sundays.