Grunella the Story Stealer preview

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Chase Woolman (left), Anna Klobnak, Leighton Williams, Tricia Kelly (center), Emily Hanck, Christy Roosma and Jake Jakieleski rehearse at Hegeler-Carus Mansion for the Nov. 14-15 staging of “Grunella, the Story Stealer.”

Illinois Valley Community College’s Theatre Department presents theatre for children with “Grunella, The Story Stealer” at Hegeler-Carus Mansion Nov. 14 and 15.

Written and directed by IVCC theatre professor and published playwright, Dr. David A. Kuester, this play with music was written especially for the department’s fall lineup.

Grunella is a delusional, high-strung, second-rate witch in Fairy Tale Land who wants her own story. She casts a spell causing all princesses including Snow White and Cinderella to forget not only their stories but also their identities so she can replace them as the star of every fairy tale ever told. Her magic also makes Prince Charming fall helplessly in love with her.

With help from the audience, Enchantra, the magical keeper of all fairy tales and the teller of Kuester’s tale, thwarts Grunella’s evil plan.

“I wanted to place a new twist on old classics, as well as introduce a new character into the realm of fairy tales. I’ve taken Snow White, Cinderella, Prince Charming, and even the Magic Mirror, and placed them in this precarious and silly situation,” said Kuester.

“Of course,” he added, “there always needs to be a hero or heroine in a fairy tale, and that’s where we introduce Enchantra, who continually interacts with the audience, leads the story step-by-step, and eventually saves the day just in time for a happy ending.”

“Grunella” marks the third return of IVCC theatre to the Mansion for a children’s show, the first being “The Snow Queen” and last season’s “A Holiday Dream,” all written by Kuester.

“The intimate nature of the performing space lends itself so well to an interactive children’s show,” said Kuester, “and for this particular production, we’ve even included audience-inclusive, kid-friendly improv, so we’re happy to have this unique venue for our children’s shows.”

The cast includes community members Christy Roosma of Ottawa, as Grunella; master story teller Tricia Kelly of Oglesby, as Enchantra; Jake Jakieleski, Marseilles, Winston; and students Emily Hanck, Peru, Snow White; Chase Woolman, Earlville, Prince Charming; Leighton Williams, Ottawa, Cinderella; and Anna Klobnak, Princeton, as the Magic Mirror.

Don Grant Zellmer, IVCC theatre instructor, provides original music and accompaniment, Jenna Stinson, IVCC technical director provides sound and lights, and IVCC students Yvette Lucas and Perla Escatel are the stage crew. Elaborate fairy tale costumes are by Follies Theatre Productions.

“Grunella” plays at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14, and at 1, 4, and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15. Seating is limited and reservations are required and may be made by visiting the Hegeler-Carus website at hegelercarus.org. Admission is $8, children under 12 are $5, and IVCC students are $2.

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