Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Important Winner from Roanoke Children's Theatre

The cast of 'Eric and Elliot' talks to the audience following the performance.
On occasion, it's important to be reminded that there should be more to theater than simply entertaining an audience. Roanoke Children's Theatre did that tonight and will continue doing it through March 3 with its production of "Eric and Elliott."

That's my date Maddie and me.
This is a play that deals head on with depression and suicide from the perspective of three children, one of whom committed suicide. It is a remarkable performance (at least tonight; there are two casts) by Noah Oldham as Eric and a laudable interpretation by Alex Cutting as Elliot that carries the show. Veterans Amanda Mansfield and her husband Michael Mansfield are solid and Gwyenth Strope is convincing as Daisy, the young girl who ties it all together and helps Eric begin to understand that facing his demons is not a bad thing.

This is the third in a series of serious plays aimed at middle school audiences (and by Tuesday, 2,500 of them in the Roanoke Valley will have seen "Eric and Elliot") and for my money, this introduction to theater for many of these children will permanently open the door. The actors talked following the play about how mesmerized many of their young audiences were with the dramatization.

Creative Director Pat Wilhelms continues to break ground with her little troupe and we all owe her for it.

I've said it a dozen times and never get tired of saying it: Theater in the Roanoke Valley is solid, creative, talented, courageous and valuable. And it just keeps getting better.

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