Icicle’s annual production counts on collaboration
Cast, crew, supporters work together to stage joyous performances
Thursday, June 28, 2012
LEAVENWORTH — Jennifer Beem was a little squirmish Monday when she found out that she was a snake.
It was the first day of Theater Camp, a weeklong rehearsal camp for the annual play by the Icicle Players. This year’s musical play is “The Jungle Book,” based on the stories by Rudyard Kipling and the 1967 Walt Disney animated film. Performances are 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at Cascade High School.
“I don’t really like snakes. But as long as it’s fake like a cartoon snake, it’s fine,” said Beem, 26, of Cashmere.
Children and adults with developmental disabilities will star in the play with help from dozens of family members and volunteers. It’s sort of like Special Olympics, but on stage and set to music. Instead of competition, it’s all about collaboration.
“We’re a bunch of monkees,” said Chris Amerson, 34, goofing around during a break with Matt Bangsund, 31, and Alex Darlington, 26, all of Leavenworth. Darlington plays King Louie, the orangutan leader of the monkees.
“We like being monkees because they’re silly and we get to sing,” said Darlington.
“I’m a monkey, but I really want to be a wolf,” said Micah McDaniel, 29, also of Leavenworth.
The play involves a child, Mowgli, who is lost in the jungle, befriended by animals and raised by wolves. While some animals are threats, including the snake and the monkeys, others are there to offer him safety.
The play, like the Icicle Players concept, is a collaborative effort by many, said Kim Miller, who is directing the Icicle Players for a fifth year. Entire families are involved in the production, she said.
“This is like a big family. Each summer is like a family reunion,” Miller said about Theater Camp, now in it’s tenth year. Previous productions included “Peter Pan” and “The Wizard of Oz.” “When they come in, everyone is so excited to see each other. It’s very unselfish. Everyone is here to help each other have a great time.”
Miller said “Jungle Book” works especially well for the group because there are a lot of roles that can be expanded to suit the players’ abilities. And the music is very uplifting.
Music this year is provided by a three-piece band of Bo Davis on tuba and bass, Tina Vandel on piano and Erin Cone on drums.
“The music really gets them marching,” said Cone, whose brother Evan is in the play.
Bill Dronen, president of Upper Valley Connection, believes the theater camp is the only one of its kind in the state. Some families come from the west side of the state each year to participate. Upper Valley Connection supports Icicle Players and provides recreational and social activities for people with disabilities throughout the year. It’s an important function, he said, because disabled people aren’t usually able to get together with friends on their own. About 100 people are involved in Theater Camp this year, including 33 with special needs. The rest are there to help.
“There’s a song in the play called “The Bare Necessities,” said Dronen, whose daughter, Allison, plays Baloo the bear. “That’s what Upper Valley Connection and Theater Camp does. It provides the bare necessities through social activities. It provides them with a large group of friends so they can be together and laugh and have a really good time. It’s a community of their own.”
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151
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