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'Rapunzel' brings new talent to Stagehands Theater
Play runs through March 31 at fairgrounds in Colusa
TIMES: 6:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday and March 30-31; 1:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Stagehands Theater at the Colusa County Fairgrounds, 1303 10th St., Colusa
TICKETS: $7 advance; $8 at door
BUY TICKETS: Messick Hardware, 729 Market St., Colusa; Country Stop, 619 Fremont St., Colusa
Madyson Navarro fidgets with her wig as she waits for rehearsal to begin on Sunday.
Wearing a wig is a new experience for the 10-year-old Williams girl, but just about everything these days is new to her.
"It's been really fun, but it has been really different," said Navarro, who is making her stage debut as the lead character in the Stagehands Theater production of "Rapunzel" in Colusa.
She is not the only first-timer.
Jennifer Baird is making her directorial debut, and said the cast is filled with first-time performers.
"We had a very big turnout (for auditions). We had 30 kids come out," said Baird, who did not want to leave anyone out.
So a few extra trees and other similar roles were created.
There were a few children who dropped out, leaving 24 with whom to go into production.
"We started meeting three days a week, just to get through reading the parts," Baird said.
By mid-February, the cast was meeting four days a week and going on stage for the first time.
"We have a lot of newcomers who have never been on stage, so I thought it was important to give everyone a chance to get on stage," said Baird, who relies on the experience of Sue Gibbs and Shot Sistrunk, veteran directors of Stagehands.
Both are involved in this play as well — Sistrunk in wardrobe, Gibbs on the technical side.
Navarro said it is not actually wearing the wig that bothers her so much, but how she looks in it.
The Egling Middle School student said she has straight hair, and the wig that she opens the play with is short and curly.
Otherwise, she likes the character she plays.
"She is both sweet and feisty," Navarro said.
Navarro wears several wigs in the production of the play, the story taken from a German fairy tale first assembled as part of a collection of stories by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.
It was given a new look by Disney in the popular animated movie "Tangled" in 2010. The Stagehands production is written by Karen Boettcher-Tate, and has some different twists other than just the star's hair.
Navarro said she was both excited and scared when she took the stage for the first time. It was a moment she has wanted for a long time, and something she hopes to do for the rest of her life.
"I want to be on Broadway," she said.
Veronica Baird, 15, did not want to be on stage at all — this time.
She was happy to be a stagehand for the production, but agreed to fill in when another actor dropped out.
Actually, she took on the role of Witch Izwitch, because her sister did not want it.
"So I became the witch, and she became the king," said Baird, who also played a witch in her last production, smiling at the thought of being typecast at the community theater.
But she really doesn't mind, and now she has one of juicier parts to bring to life.
"I have a very wild imagination, and this lets me express myself," said Baird, a self-described introvert.
Her mother got involved in Stagehands because four of her five daughters are involved, as well as her husband, Ron.
She started out doing wardrobe and other backstage tasks, then landed a role in the production of "The Education of Angels" in December.
When the chance to direct a children's play came up, she wanted it.
Actually, she asked to do "Pippi Long Stocking," she confesses, but her board member husband, one of two adult actors in "Rapunzel," had different ideas.
"He only listens to half of what I say, anyway," Jennifer Baird said with a nod and a wink.
Baird said all was going pretty well until last week, then the nerves started to set in.
She said she was feeling OK at the technical rehearsal on Sunday, concentrating on just getting the "crinkles out," but expects to be an "absolute mess" at the first full dress rehearsal today.
Baid does have some on-stage help with the directing.
Veronica Baird and Sammy Martinez, who plays Prince Llewellyn, have become mentors of sorts for the new actors and actresses.
Baird said she has enjoyed that role, too.
"It's been very nice having them look up to me for help," she said.
Martinez, 13, who is in his fourth production, also has enjoyed the mentoring aspect and trying to draw out some of the personalities of the others, but mostly he likes the idea of playing a good guy.
"I just wanted to be a different person than the last play I was in," Martinez said. "I was a warlock and very evil."
Jennifer Baird is excited about the production, which opens Friday at the Stagehands Theater at the Colusa County Fairgrounds.
"It has been fun," she said.