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‘Purple Plastic Purse’ play promotes participation

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By Will Grandbois
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Get your kids hooked on theater early with “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” part of Thunder River Theatre Company’s ongoing effort to engage new audiences.

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Based on the beloved children’s book series, directed by Wendy Moore and starring Jennetta Howell as the titular character, it runs April 29-30 at 4 p.m. and May 13-14 at both 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and is perfect for youngsters ages five to 10 and their families.

It’s a refreshing challenge for Moore to dabble in theatre for children — albeit with adult actors.

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“The principals are the same,” she noted. “I try to make children’s theater as real as adult theater.”

It’s designed to be a bit more active and interactive than usual, however, so parents shouldn’t worry that they’re kid will be expected to keep it down.

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“We’re going to invite the children to sit on the floor in front of the stage,” Moore said. “Throughout the piece, the actors are talking to the audience.”

The set and costuming certainly induces a sense of fun, with mouse ears, noses and a backdrop straight out of the book.

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“Yes, we have a purple plastic purse. It took forever to find one, but it’s adorable,” Moore added. “If a parent has read any of the books to a child, there’s going to be a great similarity. If they haven’t, they need to… I think that the story of Lilly coming to love her little brother is so universal.”

Tickets are available at $15 for kids and $25 for adults at the recently repaired website, thunderrivertheatre.com, where you’ll also notice Consensual Improv on May 12 and the annual fundraiser gala on June 10. Past improv nights, as well as the recent “Diva Cabaret” event have sold out, and TRTC had to add extra tickets to the gala. That’s what TRTC Director Corey Simpson likes to see.

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“It’s a great indication that people are hungry for these experiences,” he said. “I think theater changes to meet the needs of the times… We’re always finding new ways to engage audiences, and the momentum is building.”

It’s made possible by donors and volunteers, who keep the theater open and staffed and recently led to the acquisition of a baby grand piano, which made the cabaret series possible.

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“We have this fantastic local community of talented people who are also great singers,” he noted. “Once the Crystal Palace (in Aspen) went away, there’s been less opportunity to showcase that.”

Hopefully, in the process, some new faces come through the doors.

“It’s surprising how many people are not aware that we’re here and what’s happening in this building,” Simpson observed.

As for “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” he hopes it will be a hit for all ages.

“I think our community and society is hungry for ways of expressing ourselves and being heard,” he said. “When modern society gives us a sense of disconnect, I think live theater brings us back to sharing something together.”

Published in The Sopris Sun on April 27, 2017. 
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