Kurt Sutton is bringing his characterization of Mark Twain to Elm Street in January as part of the play based on Twain’s famous novel.
The play, which opens Jan. 17 at the Elm Street Theatre, is directed by Woodstock High student Laura Crawford as her senior project.
Elm Street Artistic Director G. Lora Grooms says the inclusion of Twain in the play greatly enhances the experience for the audience.
“Kurt helped me add Twain into the script in 2009 during the National Endowment for the Arts The Big Read in Cherokee County,” Grooms said. “The inclusion of material from the book and from Kurt’s one man show ‘An Evening with Mark Twain’ really enhanced the production. In fact, this version has also been used by other cities across the country for their Big Reads.”
The play based on the novel tells the story of Tom Sawyer, a rambunctious young boy being raised by his Aunt Polly who puts him to work on a Saturday whitewashing the fence when she discovers he’s played hooky again.
Tom, however, manages to convince the local boys what he’s doing is more like play and they offer him bribes of marbles, apples and kites for the coveted opportunity to paint.
Huck Finn, a local miscreant being raised by an alcoholic father, is not considered proper company for the other boys, which is why they all want to hang out with him. When Tom is late for school, he admits to talking to Huck because he knows the teacher will make him sit with the girls as punishment and he sees an empty seat next to the lovely Becky Thatcher.
Tom’s adventures also include being a witness at a murder trial, going ‘pirating’ on an island and being given up for dead and even getting lost in a cave.
Crawford is assisted with fight choreography and stage management by Elm Street veteran Jeffrey Collins.
Sets have been designed and built by Brad Leak. Costumes are being handled by Jo Anne Livingston, who costumed the show in 2009, and L. Harmony Reid. The roles of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher are played by Riley Beach, David Fritts and Beth Leak.
Mindy Hylton plays the long suffering Aunt Polly, and Kathy Downey plays the Widow Douglas who eventually tries to reform Huck.
Also in the cast are Darrell Jolley and Jessica Senquiz as the judge and Mrs. Thatcher, Michael Tidwell and Jonathan Smith as Muff Potter and Injun Joe, Ross Ruda and Hannah Gramling as Mr. and Mrs. Harper and Isabelle Vinellie as the teacher, Mrs. Dobbins. Tom’s schoolmates are played by Brennan Geiger, Kenna Weber, Drew Geiger, Charlotte Brown, Grace and Jack Regan, Maya Gibbins and Alexandra Honch.
The production starts at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 and 24, with matinees at 2 p.m. on Jan. 18, 19, 25, and 26.
Tickets are available at a discount online at www.elmstreetarts.org for $10 and includes sales tax/fees. Tickets are $12 at the door. Audience members can bring a can of stew, chili or chunky soup to donate to Papa’s Pantry and get a free beverage at intermission.
The play is being produced at City Center Auditorium at 8534 Main St. in Woodstock.
For more information, call (678) 494-4251 or visit www.elmstreetarts.org.