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Review

Still Life With Iris
by AC Lamplight Youth Theatre
 
In Steven Dietz’s award-winning play, Nocturno appears to be an idyllic land and fanciful kingdom on the surface. And busy to be sure, as each and everything we see in the world has to be made in Nocturno each and every night. There’s a Bolt Bender (Caleb Rose) to make each uniquely shaped bolt of lightning that will be needed, Cordell Little and Brecken Morris bottle the accompanying thunder, Kelsey Kilburn is making the rain, real-life sister Kallie Kilburn paints the grateful flowers, and Imani Bempong trains the butterflies how to fly amongst those flowers. Big jobs that must be done properly each day or the world gets a little crazy, and young Iris is a much-admired whiz kid who can handle any emergency and takes her duties seriously.

She also takes her family and loved ones seriously. Her fun and inquisitive young friends like sibling ladybug spotters Hazel (Tuisdi McClure) and Elmer (Haydn Harris), her beloved mother (the gentle and motherly Mary-Claire Marcear), and the distant memories of her long-lost father. But it is her memory that’s at risk. Unlike Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, memories need not be physically zapped from the brain to erase the past. In Nocturno, memories are enmeshed within their patchwork “past coat.” The wise Memory Mender (Preston Flowers) warns of its importance, reminding Iris to carefully maintain her coat and never take it off. Yet when the mysterious, unemotional but somehow sad Mr. Matternot (Dallas Juarez) arrives to take Iris from her home to be the child of Nocturn’s eccentric rulers, Iris is convinced to give up her coat, her memories, losing her family and so much of herself. All except for one coat button.

AC Lamplight Youth Theatre’s production in Amarillo, Texas gives Director Cyndie Koetting, her creative team, and her group of young actors a chance to tackle a play set in a vibrant world filled with great symbolism and rich characters. And they’ve got two great actresses for the title role split between eleven-year-old Sierra Collins and twelve-year-old Lauren McFather, each capturing a genuine solemnity and yearning for something she senses that she’s missing, determined to discover it. The rulers of the kingdom are the quirky couple Gretta and Grotto Good. Eleven-year-old Baylee Konnecke gives an excellent portrayal of the vain and arrogant Gretta while fifteen-year-old Troy Cartwright is a riot as the neurotic Grotto – both amusing and a little creepy as they demand order, obedience, and perfection. Anything less, and their perfect little girl Iris will be put in a glass case like a doll.

Other good performances come from Andie Auth and Jatin Thomason as Annabel Lee, Micah Gillezeau as a young Mozart, Isaac Youree as Mr. Otherguy, Taylor Houston as Captain Also, and an ensemble of colorful characters. All made even more colorful with Bonnie Brodeur’s marvelous costume creations and nice touches by Set Designers Cyndie Koetting and Matt Lindsley who also illuminates the scenes with his lighting, polishing their fantasy world filled with wonder, danger, love, and a quest for self.

Performs November 13 - 15, 2009

Rob Hopper
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Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~
 

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Butterfly Trainer: Imani Bempong
Iris: Sierra Collins and Lauren McFather
Mr. Matternot/Dad: Dallas Juarez
Hazel: Tuisdi McClure and Emily Merriman
Elmer: Haydn Harris
Memory Mender: Preston Flowers
Flower Painter: Kallie Kilburn and Natalie DiFederico
Leaf Monitor: Lauren Ross
Thunder Bottler 1: Cordell Little
Thunder Bottler 2: Brecken Morris
Bolt Bender: Caleb Rose
Mom/Miss Overlook: Mary-Claire Marcear
Rain Maker: Kelsey Kilburn
Gretta Good: Baylee Konnecke
Grotto Good: Troy Cartwright
Annabel Lee: Andie Auth and Jatin Thomason
Mozart: Micah Gillezeau
Mr. Himtoo: Austin Henderson
Mr. Otherguy: Isaac Youree
Captain Also: Taylor Houston
Third String: Cubby Spaw
Ray: Daniel Nolan
Nocturno Residents & Unwanted:
Marley Ames
Jonah Lummus
Jonah McElroy
Mary Beth Soya

Director: Cyndie Koetting
Technical Director: Matt Lindsley
Set Design: Cyndie Koetting and Matt Lindsley
Costume Design: Bonnie Brodeur
Lighting Design: Matt Lindsley
Stage Manager: Matt Martinez

   

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