Kaneland wraps up 2014 Summer Theatre Production

By on August 1, 2014

KANELAND—That’s a wrap for Kaneland’s production of “Once Upon a Mattress.”

The recent “Once Upon a Mattress” performances marked Kaneland Arts Initiative’s fifth annual Summer Theatre Production at Kaneland High School. There were six performances in all during two weekend slates.

Maria Dripps-Paulson, executive director of KAI and producer and pit orchestra director of “Once Upon a Mattress,” called the productions “successful.”

“I was very proud of our work this summer,” she said. “I feel like every aspect of the production, from the pit to the the cast of characters (and) the crew, all came together a little earlier than we have in the past.”

Dripps-Paulson said there were around 600 people who attended the performances. She considers that to be a low number for turnout.

“If you ask me, what was disappointing about the week, with the run, or the show or whatever—it really wouldn’t have anything to do with the cast and crew (or) the pit. It was just that we had low attendance,” Dripps-Paulson said.

General admission was $10 a ticket. Dripps-Paulson dismissed the idea that ticket cost was a reason for people not seeing the the show, which is based on the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.”

“It’s never the admission price,” she said. “$10 a ticket is really cheap to go see any production. I mean, productions down the street in other cities nearby us are more than $10.”

She added that a Family Ticket is $25. The Family Ticket allows a family living in one household to see the production for one low price.

“There’s a bunch of people who are walking in for free or half-price on that ticket,” Dripps-Paulson said. “So it’s not the ticket price. People don’t know the show very well.”

Last year’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” had more than double this year’s crowd.

This year’s production featured people ranging from 11 to 69 years old in the cast. Cast members were mostly from the Kaneland area, with some from St. Charles, Elgin, Ill., Hoffman Estates, Ill., Yorkville and Geneva.

The cast also included KHS graduates, such as last school year’s Mr. Kaneland Mitch Bateman, and Alec Kovach. Kaneland School Board member Peter Lopatin and Kaneland teachers Emily VanDelinder-Birchfield and Pamela Gianakakos also acted in the Summer Theatre Production

Gianakakos, who played a princess from the swamp named Princess Winnifred, sang a solo called “Shy.”

At one point during the show, a large cage rolled out with Erica Johnson, 15, as The Nightingale of Samarkand. Erica’s mom, Brenda Johnson, is a Maple Park area resident.

“She was a bird with an attitude,” Brenda said of Erica.

Meanwhile, Diane McFarlin, artistic director of KAI and director of the summer musical, had spoken about her hopes for the cast before she knew who they were. She wanted them to bring out the best in themselves, and for them to get out of their comfort zones “to be all they wanted and more.”

Following the conclusion of this year’s Summer Theatre Production, McFarlin confirmed that her initial hopes for the cast had been met, and she was pleased with the product.

“We always say at the very beginning of the project that this is different,” McFarlin said. “And we want to make it different than just community theatre. We want to elevate it to a more advanced level and want it to be the best it can be.”