"Children's Letters to God" Opens June 4 on Wallman Stage

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Dear God. How did you know you were God?" "Dear God. Are you really invisible or is that just a trick?" "Dear God. How come you did all the miracles in the old days and you don't do any now?" Based on the book by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall, "Children's Letters to God" is a show for the entire family.   

In the production of this off-Broadway musical, directed by Dr. Francene Kirk, 25 children, ages 7 to 16, ask questions -- ranging from "Why do people have to die?" to "Who invented gum?" -- while celebrating birthday parties, playing baseball and watching the stars appear in the night sky. 

"The Youth Company never ceases to amaze me. They go to school all day and then come to rehearsal with boundless energy and commitment. I love working with them," Kirk said.

The Fairmont State University Town & Gown Youth Company production of the off-Broadway musical will be performed in the Wallman Hall Theatre on the main campus in Fairmont on Friday and Saturday, June 4 and 5, at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on Sunday, June 6, at 2 p.m. Performances are also planned for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 10, 11 and 12. For tickets, call (304) 367-4240 or visit www.fairmontstate.edu/tickets. Tickets are $5 for general admission and $7 for preferred seating. Admission for the June 6 performance will be "pay what you can."

Hample, the creator of the best-selling book, adapted the story from the page to the stage with music by David Evans ("Birds of Paradise") and lyrics by Douglas J. Cohen ("No Way to Treat a Lady"). Original direction is by Stafford Arima ("Altar Boyz") with original musical staging by Patti Wilcox.

The story is told in vignettes and follows Brett (played by Brady Dunn) as he comes to grips with his parents' divorce. Brett is secretly adored by his classmate Joanna (played by Kailee Latocha) and looked up to by the neighborhood kids, including Joanna's annoying little brother, Kicker (played by Tyler Giorcelli); a wannabe baseball player named Theo (played by Christopher Yost); and a turtle-loving 10 year-old named Iris Burns (played by Leah Michael).  

The ensemble cast features Natalie Amiano, Michaela Cloutier, Sabrina Dahlia, Isabella Diserio, Mariah Duckworth, Devin Ferrell, Autumn Hansen, Aydan Hansen, Maddie LaFollette, Emilee Kristine Latocha, Sarah Lemley, Miranda M. Martin, Gatsby Q. H. Rider, Shawnae Sanders, Andy Shaw, Tori Smith, Mackenzie Tennant, Sinead Tobin and Shannon Yost.

The second show of the summer season will showcase a well-known musical. The FSU Masquers will present the first musical written by composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II at Prickett's Fort State Park at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday, June 25-27, and Thursday through Saturday, July 1-3. For tickets, call (304) 367-4240 or visit www.fairmontstate.edu/tickets. Tickets are $12. Admission for the June 27 performance will be "pay what you can."

Standing from left to right are Christopher Yost (Theo), Shannon Yost and Brady Dunn (Brett), and seated from left to right are Kailee Latocha (Joanna), Leah Michael (Iris) and Tyler Giorcelli (Kicker), who ponder the death of Iris's pet turtle Arnold in "Questions for the Rain."

Clockwise from left to right are Kailee Latocha, Shannon Yost, Leah Michael, Christopher Yost, Tyler Giorcelli and Brady Dunn. Kicker (Tyler Giorcelli), the smallest boy in the neighborhood, finds himself in a painful position.