Stick a long-haired damsel in a tower with no doors, add in a science-loving prince and glumpwarts for a twist on a classic fairy tale.
“I absolutely adore this script. It’s an adaptation of a familiar story. There are new characters and a few twists. It’s funny and upbeat and there’s a lot of humor of children and adults,” said director Susan Thompson.
The curtain will rise on “Rapunzel,” presented by Dream Weavers Children’s Theatre, Friday at 7 p.m. at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts. Other performances will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.
“Rapunzel” marks the start of the second season for Dream Weavers, a community theater company that returned to Decatur last year after a decade-long absence.
“There are so many options for kids now, we wondered if we would get the support we need. The response has been completely overwhelming. It has gone beyond my wildest expectations. Every single show we do, new people are coming to audition. The reputation we have built of being family-friendly and professional is getting out,” Thompson said.
For the Yarbrough family of Decatur — father James Yarbrough, mother Stephanie Yarbrough, 16-year-old Jamilynn Yarbrough and 6-year-old Journie Yarbrough — acting truly represents a family-friendly affair.
The four family members (and thespians) will share the stage during “Rapunzel.”
“It’s hard to find an activity that everyone enjoys. This is one of those. Dream Weavers is really good at making sure there are parts for all ages,” said James Yarbrough, who plays King Zeek Furaday opposite his wife as Queen Petunia Furaday.
In landing the role of Rapunzel, Jamilynn Yarbrough, who participated in Dream Weavers’ debut production of “Charlotte’s Web” with her mother last year, earned her first speaking part.
“When I auditioned, I never expected I would get this part. I put it down, but didn’t think it would happen. I have a bunch of nerves, but I’m also very excited. What I love most is the little girls coming up to me and saying, ‘It’s Rapunzel.’ That’s pretty special,” she said.
For Thompson, naming Jamilynn Yarbrough as the lead role symbolizes the purpose of Dream Weavers.
“Our whole mission at Dream Weavers is to give young people the opportunity to grow. This is Jamilynn’s opportunity. This is her chance and, oh man, has she come out of her shell,” Thompson said. “She earned this role. There was something innocent but also a little bit sassy about Jamilynn. She also has long hair, which is a plus when you are doing ‘Rapunzel.’ ”
Beyond children, the theater company also is introducing and exposing adults to the stage.
Angela Johnson, a first-grade teacher at Benjamin Davis Elementary, will portray the Witch Izwitch in “Rapunzel.” This marks the second acting experience for Johnson, whose theater debut occurred last year when she was Templeton in “Charlotte’s Web.”
“I was just driving my daughter to audition for ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ Susan and DeAnna Knox urged me to try out. I resisted, but they convinced me. I had lots of fun, more fun than I thought, even though I was terrified I would forget my lines,” Johnson said. “I really enjoyed working with kids from Ben Davis. Being a part of something like this, theater or dance, is so important. It gives them so much more confidence.”
Along with the Yarbrough family and Johnson, the 54-member cast features Matt Parker as Walter Schwartzbuckle, Ashley Collins as Rene Schwartzbuckle, Mary Margaret Douglas as Glumpwart Nurm, Josie Northcutt as Glumpwart Wert, Jon Norris as Prince Bumpus, Austin Reeves as Prince Markie and Grayson Fink as Prince Llewellyn.
Adapted from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, the play follows Walter Schwartzbuckle, who, trying to fill his wife’s desire for a turnip-like vegetable called ‘rapunzel,’ steals from the witch’s garden and promises her his firstborn child. A prince, who developed a formula to grow hair on eggs, attempts to rescue Rapunzel, who the witch, along with her henchmen, the glumpwarts, placed in a tower on her 16th birthday.
“This story is very different from the one you know,” said Johnson. “There’s a twist at the end and the audience will understand why we are so mean and misunderstood. I think that’s the best part of the play. It has a great message at the end to be who you are and that it’s OK to be different.”