News Column

Children's theater started by Como Park teens may be in final act

August 4, 2014

By Frederick Melo, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.



Aug. 04--On Monday night, Como Park teens Cristina Corrie and Molly Raths will put on what may or may not be the final performance of their own children's theater company, I Perform Theatre.

After five summers of original productions featuring neighborhood kids, the girls will be seniors at Roseville Area High School in September. That puts a bittersweet spin on the musical "Smoggle, Puff and Rognarok: The Quest to Slay a Dragon," which the girls directed together.

The play features 18 children, from 7 to 13 years old and all from the Como Park area.

"A lot of the families in the neighborhood are connected, and they wanted to put on a play five years ago," said Corrie, who launched the first show from her back yard when she was in seventh grade. "Now it's become this huge endeavor for all of us. We'll have block parties, and a lot of the kids already know each other through this play."

What started as two middle-school girls hosting a one-off production has evolved into a nightly summer camp and a business. For the past three summers, kids have paid $60 through St. Paul Parks and Recreation to take part in a month of nightly rehearsals at the North Dale Rec Center.

Older teens volunteer to serve as mentors and stage crew in the final week before the performance. Parents help build props.

Lifelong friends and immediate neighbors Frankie Buettner and Amalie Persson each hold dual roles as sphinxes and school principals in the new production, which revolves around three small dragons. The girls, both 11, have been participating in the theater camp since it started five years ago.

"They're just really kind and really nice people and we've known them forever," Frankie said of the two directors.

"They make it fun, instead of kind of scary and stuff. They say 'You're going to do great.' "

Acting games break the ice, and five nights of rehearsal each week boost confidence. "At first, the lines are kind of hard, but after you go over it a lot, it's really easy to memorize them," Amalie said.

This year's musical, written by fellow Como Park teen Zach Schroeder, will take place at 7 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of the Maternity of Mary School, 592 W. Arlington Ave. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids.

In September, Schroeder will be attending Northwestern University in Illinois, where he plans to study theater.

The show also features original music composed by Corrie.

Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at twitter.com/FrederickMelo.

ONLINE

For more information, go to iperformtheatre.com

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(c)2014 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

Visit the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) at www.twincities.com

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Source: Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN)


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