Drama company puts new twist on old fairy tale

Drama company puts new twist on old fairy tale
Cast and chorus of “The Caribbean Cabana, The Story of Some Vacationing Bears and a Wandering Girl”

In an adaptation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, playwright Jeff Hess of Avondale takes the bears on a family vacation to the Caribbean, where they encounter “a pesky intruder, a trio of zealous designers, a capricious TV judge, and a bumbling animal researcher.”

“It’s fairy tale meets reality TV – all G-rated, of course, said Hess, about the latest in nearly two dozen plays put on at Riverside Avenue Christian Church. Hess and his wife, Suzanne, are directors of the 18-year-old Riverside Drama Company, which produced “The Caribbean Cabana, The Story of Some Vacationing Bears and a Wandering Girl” on April 27.

By day, Hess is Dean of Communications at Florida State College Jacksonville, while Suzanne is a professor of English, also at FSCJ. After hours, they take on multiple roles within the Riverside-based theater arts education program open to children age 5 to 15.

During dress rehearsal April 26, cast and crew shared some thoughts about the production.

Tommy Holt, aka Papa Bear, has acted in six plays, beginning at age 7. The fifth-grader at West Riverside Elementary said the club is “really fun.”

Audrey Elsner, of Ortega, is a home-schooled fourth-grader. In her second play, the 10-year-old plays a home designer named Weiling. One of her favorite lines in the play is “Yes, it’s hideous,” a proclamation about a chair she didn’t design.

Magnolia Stewart, a pre-kindergartner at Ortega United Methodist Preschool, is a Jamaican singer. “I like being on stage,” said Magnolia, 5. “I always wanted to be on the stage and be a character.” Her brother, Cash, plays an astronaut in the play. His first time in a play, the 7-year-old homeschooled student’s favorite line is “Holy cow! She needs a bib! Chowing down in the great Caribb!”

To help the cast with lines, Suzanne Hess enlisted the support of next-door neighbor, Parks Easter, 17, a junior at Stanton College Preparatory School. An actor in the company’s previous plays while in middle school, Easter said it was interesting to see how excited the kids got. “They are really into it,” he said.

The drama company produces two shows a year. If your child is interested in getting involved, visit www.riversidedrama.org for details.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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