Getting into a good book
SMSU theater program to present ‘Enchanted Bookshop’
MARSHALL — It’s often said that in a good book, the characters come to life. In Southwest Minnesota State University’s current theater production, that’s not just a metaphor.
This weekend, the SMSU theater program will be performing “The Enchanted Bookshop,” a family-friendly play that brings together a crew of literary characters from Robin Hood to Heidi and Doctor Doolittle.
“There’s a lot going on, but it’s very fun,” said SMSU senior Tailer Benson. Benson is playing Dorothy Gale, one of the characters living in the bookshop.
Performances of “The Enchanted Bookshop” will be Saturday and Sunday at SMSU. In addition to performances for the general public, there will also be some special weekday shows for area elementary school students, said director Sheila Tabaka, professor of theater at SMSU.
“It’s really exciting,” Tabaka said. She estimated around 600 kids would be coming to see the play. “For everyone in the theater, it’s always fun to have a full house.”
The story of “The Enchanted Bookshop” focuses on a not-very-successful bookstore with a couple of big secrets. One secret is that the characters in all the books come to life at night. Another secret is a stolen necklace hidden in the shop by a group of jewel smugglers. The book characters must work together to somehow stop the smugglers and save the bookshop, without being seen.
The joy of reading is one of the main themes of “The Enchanted Bookshop,” and it is bookstore owner Margie who really tries to deliver that message. SMSU junior Bryn Mongeau, who plays Margie, said her character is “a little scatterbrained,” but passionate about reading.
“She wants to tell people about literature and books,” Mongeau said. “She’s connected to these characters in a very deep way.”
Cast members of “The Enchanted Bookshop” said it was both fun and challenging to take on roles that are already well-known from books and movies.
“I think to me, it’s a chance to bring justice to the character and do it right,” said first-year SMSU student Alyster Schmidt. Schmidt said he ended up doing research to help portray the mischievous Tom Sawyer in the play.
Benson said she wanted her version of Dorothy to be a little different from what audiences might remember from the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy’s character also plays a different part in the story of “The Enchanted Bookshop.”
“She’s a lot less timid in this play,” Benson said. “She’s standing up for people, and standing up for herself, in a way.”
Second-year SMSU student Fatu Tuitasi said playing the part of Sherlock Holmes was his first time acting.
“I wanted to break out of my comfort zone and try something new,” he said.
In the play, Sherlock uses his detective skills to help investigate the stolen necklace, but his attitude is a little more detached from the other characters, Tuitasi said.
“I just do my own thing,” he said.
Tabaka said “The Enchanted Bookshop” was a good show for young audiences. The play is only about an hour long, and there’s plenty of humor as Margie and the book characters try to outwit the smugglers. The play is best suited for kids age seven and older.
Schmidt said it will be fun to perform for younger audiences.
“I love how their faces light up when something happens,” he said.
IF YOU GO
Performances of “The Enchanted Bookshop” will be at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, at the SMSU Fine Arts Theatre. Tickets will be available at the door, and are $5 for ages 12 and under, and $10 for all others. Admission is free for SMSU students and faculty with ID. Free parking is available in lot B-1.