Children’s Theater drews record crowd

Kathryn Swan J-C correspondent
Cast for the Constantine Arts Council’s and Constantine Players recent Children’s Theater production of “Stone Soup” which drew 1,800 children from area schools. Kathryn Swan/J-C correspondent

For the past 26 years, the historic Constantine Center has provided area youth with live theater. Last week’s musical production of “Stone Soup” broke all records with 1,800 children in attendance. A Sunday matinee kicked off the three-day production and enabled the community an opportunity to see this delightful event.

“Stone Soup” is based on the book by Gary Peterson with music and lyrics by Larry Nestor and special arrangement with the Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois. It is a delightful story about three French hungry soldiers who were on their way home after being in battle at Waterloo with General Napoleon Bonaparte. The trio stops in a small village to rest and beg for food but the townspeople are fearful and want nothing to do with the soldiers.

That’s when one of the soldiers devised a clever way of creating a meal for his companions and ultimately the entire village. He asked the skeptical folks if he could borrow a pot and hot water to make a dish he called “magical stone soup.” The villagers’ reluctance soon waned and everyone began adding carrots, cabbage, potatoes and meat to the pot. The end result was an abundance of delicious soup that was shared by all.

Garrett Hartness, who has directed the last six children’s theater productions, said “This was one of our biggest challenges because of the music. Constantine Players sound engineer Harry Robinson did a fantastic job of working with each singer and devised a technique that would project their voices.”

He noted the cast was comprised of 22 children, representing several home-schooled plus Indian Camp and Pawhuska and Wynona Elementary. Behind the scenes, a crew of 18 worked their magic to make this production a reality. Superb music, outstanding costumes and an incredible set made this a first-class production.

The cast of characters included Andrew Williams, Rachael Laughlin, Elizabeth Chambers, Grace Hedglen, Katie Adair, Hannah Laughlin, Nicoah Hyslop, Serena Jeffers, Raegan Stevenson and Abigail Veit. Townspeople were Marleigh McKinley, Aoife O’Driscoll, Zale Pole, Bayle Radford and Samuel Shaw. Children were Jacklyn Chambers, Felipe Huff, Lilly Poe, Paige Radford, Vivian Rouse, Victoria Rouse and Kaiden Williams. Understudies were Baylee Radford, Samuel Shaw, Aoife O’Driscoll and Felipe Huff.

In addition to Hartness and Robinson, the crew includes Children’s Theater co-chairs Nicki Lorenzo and Barbara Strahm, Assistant Director Dhruti Patel, Grace Adair, Grace Hedglen, Terrie Jeffers, Jewel Santini, Penny Adair, Leah Strahm, Anna Veit, Misty Hull, Brian Jeffers, Brian Jeffers, Jr., Serena Jeffers, Rachael Laughlin, Noah Hoyt, Linda Hubbard and Nancysu Herron.

Since children’s theater began in 1990, GFWC Heeko has provided ushers for one of the Constantine’s most popular events. For many children, this is their first exposure to live theater. Hartness expressed appreciation to the Pawhuska community for supporting this worthwhile endeavor.

CUTLINE/KATHRYN SWAN – STONE SOUP: Cast for the Constantine Arts Council’s and Constantine Players recent Children’s Theater production of “Stone Soup” which drew 1,800 children from area schools.