By Justin Rust
As far as it’s known, animals do not celebrate Christmas.
But Goldilocks aims to reverse this trend as she returns to the Three Bears’ house to teach them and the rest of the forest animals about Christmas.
That is the premise behind the Yankton Children’s Theatre Company’s latest play “Goldilocks and the Christmas Bears” by Eleanor Harder.
“It’s a cute story of Goldilocks revisiting the bears, and she wakes them up so they can celebrate Christmas,” said Allison Spak, the director of the play. “All the animals haven’t had Christmas, so she teaches them about it and tells them the presents are about more who you are than what you give.”
“It’s a very cute and fun play,” Spak added.
The play will be held Dec. 18-19 at downtown Yankton’s Dakota Theatre. Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 18, and 2 p.m. Dec. 19.
Spak said the biggest problem the production has faced has been scheduling.
“It’s been on and off since October, and we had to work around ‘The Nutcracker,’ my schedule, schedules with the Summit and the theater and Wednesday nights for church,” she said. “It’s hard, but you do the best you can do.”
So far, the kids, who range from ages 5-13, have been able to rehearse three to four times a week.
Even though scheduling practices has been difficult, the production is starting to really come along, Spak said.
“With two weeks to go, I like to get them off the book,” she said. “They are close, and now the questions are about what if they forget their lines.”
So far, the kids have asked what their line is and Spak can see they are thinking what the line is, as well. Spak said she tells the kids that if they forget a line, they should ad-lib as best as they can and the rest of cast will know where to pick it up.
“They haven’t started ad-libbing yet, but by next week, it should flow because they will interact better with each other,” Spak said.
Another aspect she has had to get her young cast accustomed to is not to turn their backs to the audience, and she said they have learned to face the stage well so far.
“If their back is to me, they are in the wrong spot,” she said. “I’m always watching so they don’t have their backs to me. At first it’s hard to comprehend, but they have learned to adapt.”
With the play just a week away, Spak has entered a “panic mode” as a director, which is common even if things are going well. The panic is caused not just by getting the kids ready for the play, but also getting the set and costumes ready.
“I end up doing everything from sets to costumes, but the moms have pulled together and have really helped with the costumes and finishing them up,” she said. “The families do help out with all the shows, and they help get the set down, which works out well.”
The strength of the production currently is the cohesion of the three lead characters: Mrs. Squirrel (played by Kelsey Westerman), Mrs. Jay (Cate Perakslis) and Fox (Tyler Kozak).
“Those three are working so well together,” Spak said. “They have just clicked.”
Westerman isn’t new to the stage, but this is one of her first main acting parts, Spak said.
“She is usually in the chorus, so this is one of the first times acting for her,” she said.
Spak said Kozak, who is a first-timer on stage, has really built the character well.
“At first, he always had his back to the stage, but now he has developed the character,” she said. “I told him to watch ‘Pinocchio’ for the sly fox, and he watched it and came back and has done very well with it.”
The show is performed in two acts and runs about an hour and 15 minutes. Spak is even hoping the snow machine she ordered gets there in time so there is hopefully some snow for the stage during the play.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for 3 and up. Kids under age 3 are free.
“If people have their orange cards that we handed out for Halloween, then a kid will get in free with a paying adult,” Spak said.
Once this musical play is completed, Spak will have some down time before auditions begin for the YCTC’s March production of “The Jungle Book.” Auditions will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 15-16 for kids ages 5-18. All auditions will be held at the YCTC home at 407 Walnut Street.
But right now the focus is on the “Christmas Bears” production.
“We just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas with a great show,” she said.
Mrs. Squirrel — Kelsey Westerman
Mrs. Jay — Cate Perakslis
Fox — Tyler Kozak
Wolf — Mikayla Trenhaile
George — Travis Munyer
Eunice — Ashley Schweitzer
Sidney — Cody Griffith
Goldilocks — Jaidyn Wishon
Bunny 1 — Emma Eichacker
Bunny 2 — Makayla Palecek
Bunny 3 — Kaitlin Paulson
Skunk 1 — Ella Schmidt
Skunk 2 — Elizabeth Schmidt
Blue Jay — Samantha Kortan
Deer — Mary Schmidt
Wolf — Alexa Griffith
Director — Allison Spak
Crew — All the Parents and the kids
Lighting and Sound — Tibor Spak