Smoke on the water, but precious little sun

Published 6:33 am Sunday, October 26, 2008

By Staff
Kids fill theater for ECU StoryBook Theater production
Lifestyles &Features Editor
Wolves, tigers, monkeys and other “beasts” caroused across the stage of the Turnage Theater Saturday afternoon during the Story Book Theater’s production of “The Jungle Book.”
The performance featured a cast of student performers from East Carolina University and was directed by ECU professor and Washington resident Patch Clark.
Area children and their families filled the Turnage for the show, which was based on the classic tale by Rudyard Kipling.
Clark began casting the show in September and rehearsals began shortly thereafter. Prior to bringing the show to the Turnage, the cast staged two performances on Friday at the Wright Auditorium in Greenville, according to Clark.
Some of those in the audience at the Turnage Saturday afternoon were there to see hometown girl McKenna Cox in the role of Kaa the snake. Cox, a 2007 graduate of Washington High School, now attends ECU. Among the family members and friends cheering her on were her parents, Charles and Janet Cox.
This was the young performer’s third role in a Story Book Theater production; previously she appeared in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” and “All Aboard America!”
Cox plans to take a brief — very brief — hiatus from performing before diving into a busy month of events during November. She will appear as a finalist in the Beaufort County Idol competition, which will be followed by two evenings as part of ECU’s upcoming “The No Boundaries Lounge” ensemble, which she described as a workshop-style performance with fellow students.
Cox will also soon begin rehearsals for “The Last Showboat,” an original play written by Stuart Aronson and produced by The Pamlico Playhouse Inc. That show will be staged at the Turnage Theater Nov. 21-23.
Following “The Jungle Book” performance, Cox joined her fellow actors and Clark for an acting workshop for children. The youngsters were invited to express their own creativity through song, stories and dance.
Story Book Theater — which actually consists of two troupes — also visits schools throughout eastern North Carolina, bringing stories, poetry and music to the students. The actors are planning two visits to schools in Beaufort County, one in December and another next spring.
The ECU performers also take their shows on the road to festivals and libraries, according to Clark. She said she is especially excited about a new opportunity that begins this week.
Of all the venues the Story Book Theater has played, Clark admitted to a special affinity for the Turnage.