No ‘Disney-fying’ in this play

By Stacie Wieland

DeKalb | The School of Theatre and Dance’s first production of the year, “Leaves from a Fairy Book,” opens to the public at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and runs until Sunday, and again from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, in the O’Connell Theatre. Tickets are $7 for students, $14 for adults and $8 for senior citizens.

As the title suggests, the show is about fairy tales; specifically, three stories from Andrew Lang’s “Fairy Books,” adapted by director Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance Christopher Markle (“Toads and Diamonds, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” and “The Grateful Beasts”).

“Fairy tales are very powerful—epic,” Markle said. “We grow up and learn so many things through fairy tales.”

While “Leaves from a Fairy Book” will open Thursday, this will not be the first performance. The SummerNITE Company is coming home to NIU after its world tour of Russia, Romania and the New American Theater in Rockford, which wasn’t without a few minor bumps. Costume Designer David Galbreath confessed the original masks used in the show were left in Romania.

“We had to rethink how they were painted to make them audience-friendly,” he said.

The stage the actors will use is flipped, which means the audience will be seated backstage and not in the house of O’Connell Theatre, bringing people much closer to the players.

Naturally, the group is very excited to be making their home debut. Actor Spark O’Connell said he wants the people who come see the performance “to experience the energy this show brings.” He explained he feels the play is “more for the imagination than the emotions.”

Fellow player Michael Apperson said he wants people to have fun and hopes to see a lot of children in the audience.

One of Markle’s goals is to help re-awaken peoples’ wonder of fairy tales. While working on the show, he wanted to stay away from “Disney-fying” the stories. One of the prime examples of how that is accomplished is telling the story of “The Grateful Beasts.”

“It’s like a Greek tragedy,” said Markle, who hopes the show is “delightful enough for children and profound enough for an adult.”

Stacie Wieland is a film critic for the Northern Star.