Local luminaries to join the cast of Pageant!

4:26 PM
by Mithra Ballesteros, First Stage Children's Theater

In theater, an invisible yet obvious boundary separates the actors from the audience. This imaginary line between the stage and the seats is referred to as the 'fourth wall'. Crossing the fourth wall or 'breaking it' is a technique that originated with the ancient Greeks to engage audiences and to make stage action seem more immediate and real.

First Stage has never been averse to breaking the fourth wall. During the current run of IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE, the fourth wall is repeatedly broken when the Mouse and the Boy freeze to allow Assistant Stage Manager Maria Petrella to deliver a prop. Even the preschoolers in the audience appreciate this technique and quickly catch on to the idea that what they are seeing is not part of the narrative, but a clever device for their entertainment.

The divide between audience and actors will be breached again during THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, opening November 27 in the Todd Wehr Theater. This time, individuals from the audience will be plucked from their seats to join the action on stage.

But wait! There's more! These individuals are local luminaries who have accepted a special one-time walk-on role. It sounds crazy, but director Jeff Frank says, "Because of our experience in producing this play, and the improvised nature of this script, THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER presents us with the unique opportunity to allow walk-on roles during each performance. We're delighted to share the spotlight with a wide variety of esteemed members of our rich community, and I'm sure our local celebrities will have a ball during their time on stage."

But wait! There's more! These willing improvisers will stay true to the production's setting in the 1980s by leading the audience in Jane Fonda-inspired aerobics, as made famous during that radical decade. Audiences should relish the sight of Mayor Tom Barrett donning a brightly colored sweatband and urging everyone comfortably situated on the other side of the fourth wall to "make it burn!"

Besides Mayor Barrett and others, First Stage is also welcoming Marquette Boy's Basketball Coach Buzz Williams, Olympic Gold Medalist Bonnie Blair, Actor Mark Metcalf, Project Runway Contestant Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman, and our very own D.J. Elizabeth Kay! Stay tuned here for updates and break out your legwarmers!

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