Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Monday, November 09, 2015

A Practically Perfect Musical!

When audiences watch Amber Burgess glide practically perfectly from the rafters to the stage in the role of Mary Poppins they won’t need to know she spent months in training for the event. Young and old alike need only watch in delight as this year’s holiday musical comes to life at the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres.

Burgess demonstrated this bit of theater magic recently at the conclusion of the preview of the 2016 season. It is more than just a matter of wearing a harness beneath her costume. She underwent intense physical training in Chicago so that she would be strong enough to maintain her balance as she flies about the theater.

Jeremy Littlejohn, Artistic Director of the Round Barn and director of “Mary Poppins,” admitted that audiences will have expectations when they come to see the show. “Anytime you have something that was a movie it’s tricky, because a lot of time a film will film at a lot of locations, many that appear only once. That by itself makes this a massive show.”

That means that the members of the large cast, most of whom are playing more than one part, have one more role to play -- they’ll be setting the stage during all the scene changes.” All of that will happen under the guidance of Technical Director Tom Slavey.

How did the show come to be? It’s common enough for stories, books, and plays to be adapted into musicals, but how do you make a musical out of a musical? You start with the stories of P.I. Travers about her famed character Mary Poppins, layer it with the many songs of from the beloved 1964 Disney film featuring the music of the famed Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, add the Book by Downtown Abbey writer Julian Fellowes, mix new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe and stir vigorously with the genius of Cameron Mackintosh.

Laughing, Littlejohn recalled “The feud between Travers and Disney is well known. She disliked the film version so much that she had it put in her last will and testament that no one from the film would be allowed to work on the stage adaptation.”
The new songs are blended with favorites from the Disney film, including “Just a Spoonful of Sugar,” “Jolly Holiday,” “Step in Time, “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

Littlejohn admitted, “I have a very strong connection with this show. I grew up with the film. Also, my best friend Joe Ford is playing Bert. Amber and I have a long personal and professional history together. So it’s been a lot of fun getting to work with two of my closest friends on stage.”

“Mary Poppins” will run from November 13 to December 31. In addition to Amber Burgess as the title character and Joe Ford as Bert, the cast includes Katherine Anderson, Tim Becze, T. J. Besler, Sara Drinkwine, Joyana Loraine Feller, Carl Glenn, Josh Hatfield, MoMo Lamping, Derik Lawson, Kyle O’Brien, Sarah Philabaum, Joelle Rassi, Ryan A. Schisler, Elsa Scott, Hanna Shetler, Justin Williams, and the four footed Izzy (“Woof”) Wysong,

Sarah Philabaum is the choreographer, Travis Smith is Music Director, Timothy James is Stage Manager, Amber Burgess is the Costume Designer, and Executive Producer Richard Pletcher is also the set designer.

"Mary Poppins," opens in a seven week run November 13 at the Round Barn Theater at Amish Acres, and runs through December 31. For reservations and information call 800-800-4942. 

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Power and the Promise of The Diary of Anne Frank

Maple Creek Middle School of Fort Wayne, Indiana traveled one hour across the Grand Army of the Republic Highway (US 6) in five chartered buses to see The Round Barn Theatre’s Young Audience Production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Three other schools including Prairie Heights Middle School, Edgewood Middle School and Lakeview Middle School also attended this performance making attendance for the two performances close to 800 people.

It has been 70 years since Anne Frank and her sister were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she died in 1945 just before the camp was liberated. Time is the enemy of memory. Denials that Anne Frank ever existed have followed this brave and insightful teen’s diary since its publication in 1947. The horrors of the Nazi’s extermination of the Jews during its reign of terror leading up to and during World War II, could not silence this young girl’s resolve, and her words live on for all to ponder.

When history fades we are more likely to forget and possibly repeat the mistakes of the past. We commend the teachers and administrators who arranged for this group of teenagers to witness first hand this live production because there is nothing more powerful than live theatre to impress our minds with messages large and small, but vital to our shared goal of living in peace and  harmony with tolerance for everyone in this ever shrinking world. Frightening events are being carried out today that call for more and more children to be exposed to Anne Frank’s bravery.

Hats go off to the acting company of The Round Barn Theatre for its dedication to this story and its presentation. They are busy with the current production of Harvey, Monday night’s 2016 season preview party, and exhausting rehearsals of Mary Poppins.This beautiful sunny and warm day represents the promise of this next generation to lead us further toward enlightenment and wisdom.