Events planned at Springer Opera House, Columbus Ballet and St. Luke United Methodist Church

sokamoto@ledger-enquirer.comApril 26, 2013 

  • What: “The Big Friendly Giant,” based on a book by Roald Dahl, it’s about a young giant who becomes friends with a little girl named Sophie and go on adventures with her.

    When: 7 p.m. today and May 3; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and May 4

    Where: Springer Opera House’s Foley Hall, 1022 First Ave.

    Tickets: $10 for adults, $7 for children (babies through age 5) and students through college with valid ID; $5 for Springer Theater Academy students.

    Box office: 706-327-3688

    What: “Divertimento,” the Columbus Ballet’s spring production

    When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

    Where: Columbus State University’s University Hall on main campus

    Tickets: $10; $5 for children 10 and younger.

    Information: Jennifer Wellborn at 706-662-2219

    What: The St. Luke Orchestra presents George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with guest soloist Yien Wang; also, the All-American music of John Williams and Henry Mancini

    When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

    Where: St. Luke Ministry Center, 301 11th St.

    Tickets Free; dinner is $7 (reservations required for dinner)

    Reservations: 706-256-1017

  • The Big Friendly Giant: Adam Archer is back in the role of BFG for the third time. He was last seen in last season’s smash hit, “I Tweeted on My iPad ... And I Liked It,” which he directed and co-created with Jef Holbrook. He has worked at the Springer Opera House as an actor, director, education assistant, bartender and No Shame Theatre director. He currently lives in Chicago, where he performs weekly at iO Theater and is a member of iO’s musical improv show, The Deltones. He also produces and performs in Chicago’s Lethal Action Force: The Improvised Action Movie. He is a graduate of Columbus State University.

    RED TEAM

    Sophie: Lane Stone has performed in “Abeline, Texas” and “Big Trouble in the Big Top” with Drama Kids and was a dancer in Center Stage Dance Studio’s production of “Wicked.”

    FleshlumpEater: Bailey Martin was James in the Springer’s “James and the Giant Peach.” He also was in ‘Fools” and “Ramona Quimby” at Lee-Scott Academy.

    MeatDripper: Mikayla Cypert was in “Afternoon of the Elves” at the the Springer. She also performed at Harris County High School in “The 1940s Radio Hour,” “Frankenstein,” “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” “Dearly Departed” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

    BloodBottler: Sam Bolar attends Harris County High and was in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” “Shrek Jr.,” “The Pirates of Penzance Jr.,” “Once on This Island Jr.,” “Mulan Jr.” and other various shows at Harris County Carver Middle School.

    GizzardGulper: Ansley Lynn appeared in “Ramona Quimby” and was crew for “Annie,” “Amazing Grace” and “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer” at the Springer.

    ManSlugger: Quinton Blount performed at the Springer in “Sideways Stories From Wayside School” and “Inherit the Wind.” He has laos appeared in Hardaway High School’s “The Shivers,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

    ChildChewer: Kathryn Harding volunteers as an usher and is making her first appearance at the Springer She began attending the Springer Theater Academy last summer. She has been dancing since she was 2-years-old.

    BoneCrusher: Isaac Snider appeared in “Amazing Grace” at the Springer in 2012 and performed in various Drama Kids shows. He has been awarded Best Team Player at the Springer Theater Academy twice. “BFG” was the first show he ever saw at the Springer.

    KneeNibbler: Anna Read has performed in “Anne of Green Gables” and “Cheaper by the Dozen” at Class Act Productions in State College, Pa. Her nickname is “Anna Beast” because her fellow KneeNibbler is Annabelle Wolford.

    BLUE TEAM

    Sophie: Hayley Strickland is making her acting debut at the Springer. Recently, she performed at the Springer’s 2013-14 season announcement as a dancer in the “Pinkalicious” preview. She can say all 50 states in 14.7 seconds.

    FleshlumpEater: Braden Sanders has been a Springer Theater Academy student for more than 10 years, but this will be his first show. He was the light technician for Brookstone School’s production of “All Shook Up” in 2012. In his down time, he likes to do parkour.

    MeatDripper: Zoe Wirt appeared at the Springer in “9 to 5 — The Musical” and was crew for “Sideways Stories From Wayside School.” At Columbus High School, she has appeared in “Godspell,” “Legally Blonde” and “Hairspray.”

    BloodBottler: Jacob Lowry was in the Springer’s “Peter Pan,” “Ramona Quimby” and “Amazing Grace.” He appeared in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at the Family Theatre. He is a Springer Advisory board member.

    GizzardGulper: Anna Katherine Drew performed at the Springer in “Cinderella” and “The Little Baby Snoogle Fleejer” and was the assistant stage manager for “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.” She also appeared in “South Pacific” at Brookstone.

    ManSlugger: Joseph Bryant was in “Amazing Grace” at the Springer in 2012. He has performed in various shows at the Family Theatre and was in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at the Germantown Community Theater in Memphis.

    ChildChewer: Savannah Fowler appeared in “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer” at the Springer in 2012. She also was awarded Most Focused at the Springer Theater Academy.

    BoneCrusher: Robert Rome performed at Hardaway High in “Seussical the Musical,” “Comedy of Errors” and “The Wind in the Willows.” He also performed in several shows at Richards Middle School.

    KneeNibbler: Annabelle Wolford was in “Carousel” and “Amazing Grace” at the Springer. She has received the Most Outstanding student award of her Springer Theater Academy group for the past two years.

The names of the monsters are pretty gruesome -- FleshbumpEater, MeatDripper, BloodBottler, GizzardGulper, ManSlugger, ChildChewer, BoneCrusher and KneeNibbler. And they're pretty ferocious, too.

But then there's BFG or "The Big Friendly Giant." BFG doesn't eat "human beans." He's a vegetarian, who loves to eat giant snozzcucumbers and drink something called "frobscottle," which causes major flatulence called "whizzpoppers."

Such is going to be the life today when "The Big Friendly Giant" opens at the Springer Opera House.

The story is about a little girl named Sophie, who wakes up one night to see something -- or someone -- outside her window. It turns out it's BFG, who takes her on an adventure.

Sophie learns that BFG tries to catch children's nightmares to kill the nightmares, which often star those bad giants.

This story by Roald Dahl, who also wrote "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach," is the most popular show that the Springer Opera House Children's Theatre does, said director Ron Anderson. He's also the director of the Springer's Theater Academy.

It will be the Springer's third time presenting the show and the daytime performances are sold out with a waiting list of more than 500 children.

The production of "James and the Giant Peach" is almost as popular, Anderson said.

As soon as the season was announced last year, teachers were calling to be put on the list to get a slot to bring their children, he said.

This year's ensemble is as good as any professional acting company, Anderson said.

"They are fearless, confident and engaging," Anderson said. Some of them are in their first show, while others have done several. He likes to blend both young actors with more veteran ones because they always end up "learning from each other."

Having Adam Archer back as BFG is "a dream." Archer, a Columbus State University theater graduate, is now working regularly in Chicago.

He's played the giant all three times.

"This group has been very playful," Archer said. "They are willing to try new things."

Anderson loves to highlight what he calls

"the heroic child" in the plays he picks for the Children's Theatre productions.

This one features Sophie, who ends up saving the world from the bad giants.

Even though they have the scary names, Anderson promises that they are not really scary. It's a good play for young children.

Annabelle Wolford, who plays KneeNibbler, is a vegetarian in real life, so she claims she's not really that scary.

The young actors are all big fans of Archer's.

Columbus Ballet

The Columbus Ballet's spring production is "Divertimento," or something that can amuse people, said Columbus Ballet's artistic director Maria Hirsch.

Hirsh is hoping people will be amused during this show. She split the show into three segments.

The first features excerpts from the first act of the ballet, "Cinderella." She's hoping to present the full-length ballet in the future, but she first has to raise the money to present it, she said. Right now, she's writing grants to fund the ballet.

The second segment is a ballet choreographed to jazz, played by a live jazz band on stage.

This, she said, is totally out of her element, but she's having fun with it.

Laura Johnson choreographed a group of dancers for "In the Mood." Hirsch choreographed "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and "Sing, Sing, Sing."

The jazz ballet choreography is not done en pointe.

"It's relaxed and the girls are having fun," Hirsch said.

The third segment features solos, pas de deux and pas de trois from standard ballet repertoire including "Sleeping Beauty," "Le Corsair," "Coppelia," "Don Quixote" and "La Bayadere."

The spring show, unlike "The Nutcracker," features the girls in the higher levels of the Columbus Ballet. There are about 20 dancers.

"The girls are working really hard," Hirsch said.

The end-of-the-year production for the CSU Ballet Conservatory is May 8 in University Hall. It's free.

The Ballet Intensive or ballet camp will be June 1-7.

Call 706-507-8367.

Rhapsody in Blue

The St. Luke United Methodist Church has had an orchestra of community members for 15 years. The 32-piece ensemble will perform around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. Dinner will be served around 5:30 p.m. Dinner will cost $7 and must be reserved, but the concert is free.

The St. Luke Orchestra will present George Gershwin's masterpiece, "Rhapsody in Blue" Wednesday night along with the "All-American music of John Williams and Henry Mancini."

Jim Evans, the orchestra's conductor, hired Yien Wang, the collaborative pianist at Columbus State University, to play the piano for "Rhapsody in Blue."

Steve Scott, the percussionist for the orchestra, said, "I've heard a lot of pianists in my time, but Yien Wang is remarkable. We (the orchestra) look forward to all of them (concerts), but this one especially because of Yien Wang."

The Williams segment is called "The Young Person's Guide to John Williams," and features music from movies, including "Hook," "Hedwig's Theme" from the "Harry Potter" movies, "E.T." and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The Mancini segment features marches from old movies and television shows like "The Great Race" and "Mr. Lucky."

Scott's classmate at Auburn University, Johnnie Vinson, wrote the arrangement for the Mancini segment. Vinson was the band director at Auburn.

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