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January 26, 2001

Calvin Class Presents Kids Play

An upcoming play at Calvin College uses garbage bags, newspapers and cardboard for the costumes. And the set includes a sun made of jeans, stars made from old socks, old bike tires and bike frames and much more.

It's all part of the fantasy of "No One Will Marry A Princess With A Tree Growing Out of Her Head!" The children's play will run in Calvin's Lab Theatre from February 14-17 (at 12:30 and 7 pm on February 14, 10 am and 12:30 pm on February 15, 10 am and 7 pm on February 16 and 11 am and 2 pm on February 17). Tickets are $6 and $7 and $3 for groups of 15 or more (call 957-6282).

"We're creating a land of imagination," says director Randy Buursma (above), a Calvin College professor, of the upcoming production. "Everything is very make-believe, which is the way kids play on their own. We want people to walk out saying 'Wow, that was fun. We were in a different land.' If that happens the play will be a success."

And 14 Calvin students can be assured of a good grade in their Interim class, which is responsible for the production of the play. Interim is an interesting time at Calvin College. During the three-week January term students take just one three-hour class. And often those offerings are a little unusual - as is the case with this class whose rather-large challenge was to take a play from script to performance, while doing everything in between, including acting, sets, costumes, sound, lights and more.

Calvin faculty also are playing a significant role in the production. Theatre professor Debra Freeburg is teaching the class, while music professor Charsie Sawyer is directing all of the show's music, which includes two keyboard players and a lot of singing by the cast. Buursma says the production will be superb.

"We had try-outs last October to pick the cast," says Buursma, "and even then I was impressed by the talents and abilities of the students. After try-outs students were able to also sign up for the class as crew members, working on set design, costumes and sound and lighting."

Buursma's class is getting a hand from another Calvin Interim class. Calvin costume designer Melissa Merz taught an Interim class on costume design. It was her idea to look for ways to make recycled costumes. When she approached Buursma with the idea he was intrigued. He says now that the costumes are, in fact, driving much of how the play is progressing.

"When we settled on costumes made from garbage bags, cardboard, newspaper, that sort of thing, then we thought we should look for ways to make the set recycled too," he says. "And that's creating a whole imaginative feel that carries through to the rest of what we're doing. It's been amazing to see how that one decision impacts everything else we do."

The play, which Buursma says is aimed at kids from four years old to fifth grade, is about a princess who has a spell put on her. When she turns 21 and is supposed to meet the princes that she might marry she feels a sprout beginning to grow from her head. And she learns she has three days to get rid of it. She meets a wizard and together they go to the four winds to get clues. In the end she confronts the witch who cast the spell, using the clues the winds gave her.

"It's a very fun and very fast-moving show," says Buursma of the 70-minute production. "And it's funny. I laugh out loud every day in rehearsals. I think parents will really enjoy it with their kids."

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Contact Phil de Haan.