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The Daily



06-26-03: Prince will come to the rescue in Coldwater
Students ready to perform summer production of OThe Magic Flute'

The Daily Standard
    COLDWATER - Summer has brought dragons and other unusual characters with shiny, metallic hair to the village this summer as junior high students prepare for the first ever summer theater production, "The Magic Flute," based on the opera by Wolfgang Mozart.
    In a nutshell, it's the story of a prince on a quest with a bird catcher to rescue the Night Queen's daughter, who is being held prisoner by an evil wizard.
    The production is the result of a drama workshop, funded through the Mercer County Educational Service Center's 21st Century Grant, that began last week. Participating are 22 kids - 19 fifth- through ninth-grade students and three high school assistants.
    Director Jud Lehman, seventh-grade speech and English teacher, said it's a fairly good turnout considering all the summer camps and 4-H programs going on simultaneously, but way down from the usual 60 or more students who participate in school plays.
    Lehman, who has directed 10 shows in his five years at Coldwater, said he chose "The Magic Flute" because it's a production he's always wanted to do.
    "Plus, this is the 300th anniversary of the opera (on which the play is based), so it seemed a fitting time to do it," Lehman said.
    It's a jaunty little play with odd characters and wild costumes, which assistant director Joanne Billerman, also a Coldwater teacher, was able to find at a theater warehouse in Covington, Ky., and purchase with grant money.
    "We purchased a few costumes, like the wizard's robes, and then used it as a pattern to make other togas. Other costumes we just improvised," Billerman said.
    Play practice runs four hours a day with a one-hour lunch break. In the morning, the students work on their lines and actual rehearsal. Afternoons find them creating scenery.
    "They've done a great job. Although we have a lot of hours each day to put it together, we don't have many days. They've learned their lines in less than a week," Lehman said.
    Personally active in drama for many years, Lehman said the big thrill for him in directing is helping the kids "find their character."
    He guides them through thinking about how a particular character reacts and thinks and generally about his/her slot in life.
    "I give them a lot of freedom on how to do their character. It's important that the character belong to them individually," Lehman said.
    Not only the first summer production at Coldwater schools, it's also a traveling show with three performances set at area nursing homes this week. A special children's performance will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, and the general public is invited to see the show at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
    "We hope to do it outside in front of the junior high building, weather permitting. So, folks should bring their lawn chairs," Lehman said.


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