Turnage to host Storybook Theatre|Saturday show features local dancers, writer

Published 4:07 am Friday, November 13, 2009

Lifestyles & Features Editor

Five young Washington residents are appearing as penguins in this weekend’s “All Aboard South America!” show, and a sixth will have the opportunity to see her words come to life on the stage.
Grace Berry, Mary Michael Bilbro, Emily Manning, Grace Paszt and Elisa Wilkins are featured dancers in the show, which is directed by Washington resident Patch Clark as part of East Carolina University’s Storybook Theatre series. The youngsters, all 7 years old, are second-graders at John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School in Washington.
A story in the script was penned by Washington’s own Margaret McGuire, an 11-year-old home-schooled student. The production is being staged twice today at Wright Auditorium in Greenville, and it is coming to the Turnage Theater in Washington on Saturday.
The Washington show starts at 2 p.m.; admission is $5 for a child up to 12 years old and $10 for an adult. A theater workshop for youngsters in the audience is planned following the stage production.
“This wonderful show has something for everyone! Stories, dance, music and mystery all add up to fun family entertainment for all ages,” said Clark. “The original music by Dr. Linda High and the percussion arrangements by Dr. John Wacker, both for the ECU School of Music, provides exciting music with a South American flair. Choreography by Galina Panova from the School of Theatre and Dance and our own Janet Cox is equally entertaining and exciting. The original stories by the youth of eastern North Carolina and the ones we have gathered from our friends in South America are fantastic and fun as well.”
For McGuire, who said she loves to write, having her story chosen for the script is an exciting opportunity to showcase her talents.
She learned about the search for stories written by local youngsters through a home-school network, and her piano teacher encouraged her to give it a try.
“My story is called ‘The Moon Rope,’” McGuire said. “It’s about a fox who decides he wants to go to the moon, and he takes a mole with him. They start climbing up a rope that a bird flew to the moon, but the mole falls. He’s embarrassed, so he stays underground forever and ever.”
McGuire said she was “very excited” when she received the phone call with the news her story had been selected. Naturally creative, McGuire said, she also enjoys painting and drawing.
“I like lots of artsy, craftsy things,” she said. “I like making candles and I like cooking — I’m good with desserts. And I like carving sticks, making swords and stuff out of wood.”
Berry, Bilbro, Manning, Paszt and Wilkins were chosen to portray penguins in this year’s show, the second time they’ve appeared in an ECU production.
“Patch was so impressed with them when they were in ‘Willy Wonka’ last year that she wrote them into this show,” said Janet Cox, the girls’ dance instructor and owner of Le Moulin Rouge De Danse in Washington. “They have been working very hard on this. They’re doing a handkerchief dance, a folk dance from South America.”
The girls will be wearing black-and-white fleece costumes made by Bilbro’s mother, Bridget Bilbro. They said, in unison, that they are looking forward to meeting everybody in the cast, saying their line and getting to dance on stage again.
McGuire is the daughter of Tim and Cindy McGuire. Parents of the little penguins are Todd and Laura Berry, Michael and Bridget Bilbro, Charlie and Lesleigh Manning, E.J. and Sarah Paszt and Jay and Lisa Wilkins.