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'Bridge To Terabithia' director proud of cast, crew's efforts
In Apr. 24 issue
By Cody York
Times Journal Intern

RUSSELL SPRINGS - The Star Theater has long been a staple of drama and acting in Russell County. Many plays have been successfully performed, ranging from good ol' hillbilly comedies such as the well-known "Virgil" series to dramatic, emotional productions like "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Titanic."

The members of the Russell County Arts Council have always taken pride in producing plays that will be entertaining and memorable for audience members of all ages.

Currently, the Star Theater is putting on a production by the name of "Bridge To Terabithia," based on the beloved children's book of the same name written by Katherine Paterson.

It tells the tale of a blossoming friendship between Jesse Aarons and Leslie Burke, two youngsters living in rural Virginia who don't quite fit in. They are viewed as "odd" by their classmates, and their differences form a strong bond.

They create an imaginary magical kingdom in the forest near where they live, a place where they are king and queen, and can escape from the world into a land where they can be themselves.

The play stars Mackenzie McGowan as Jesse, Shelby Maldonado as Leslie, and Angrick Cooper as Jesse's younger sister, May Belle.

Adam Redmon is the co-director of "Terabithia," along with Kyle Hadley. Redmon is a member of the Arts Council and for many years has been actively involved in all the productions that the Star Theater puts on.

He says that he is proud of the effort that all the cast and crew have put into this play, and that the attendance has been good so far. "Friday night we broke the 100 mark, and although the attendance was a little weaker on the following Saturday and Sunday, we had a good opening weekend overall," said Redmon, "especially considering the serious, emotional nature of the production."

The play has already run on last weekend, and will run again next weekend, on April 25, 26 and 27. It starts at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Admission is $7, and kids 12 and under get in free.

Redmon said that although there have been a few setbacks during the rehearsals, the production has persevered, and everyone came together and worked hard to get it finished.

"Every production has its setbacks. I can tell you that from being involved here for nearly a decade. Weather and illness affected our practices somewhat, but everyone worked hard at the end, and it made mine and Kyle's directorial debut very special," he said.

Redmon mentioned that the crew's main goal was to stay as faithful to the novel as possible.

"It was easy to do, because the script we used was actually written by Paterson herself. Although it was originally written to be a musical, we adapted it to be a standard drama, and felt that it would better convey the overall feeling of the book.

"A good example of this is the scene where Jesse and Leslie are writing a letter to the school bully, Janice Avery, in an attempt to get back at her. The dialogue for this scene was written in lyrical format, but Kyle and I adapted it and used some snippets of the actual conversation from the novel. I think it went over very well," he said

The Star Theater will finish up its 14th season with a production of Disney's "High School Musical," directed by Mary McGowan. The play will run June 20 through 22, and June 27 through 29.

The theater's landmark 15th season will start in the fall, and it is one that Redmon is very excited about. It opens with "Corn County," a hillbilly comedy written by Gary McGowan. In October, "The Crucible" opens, and Redmon is directing this one solo.

"I feel very honored to have been chosen to direct such a serious and dramatic play," he said. The play was written by famed playwright Arthur Miller, and has been very influential in American literature.

For Christmas, the Star Theater will be putting on the stage adaptation of the holiday classic "It's A Wonderful Life." Some plays that are on tap for 2009 include "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," the directorial debut of Barb Hartford and Kelvin Bailey, "Those Three Crazy Ladies," a comedy about three senile, old ladies directed by Debbie Bell, and a stage adaptation of "Pinocchio," directed by Todd Wilson.

Redmon said he feels that the Star's 15th season is going to be very influential.

"It has a theme of old meets new; we're trying to get back to a more simplistic stage set, instead of the more elaborate sets we've had in the past. That way, it puts more of a focus on the acting itself."

Redmon said that he would love to see the Star put on the absurdist dramas "Waiting For Godot," written by Samuel Beckett and "Rhinoceros," written by Eugene Ionesco at some point, as well as an adult-casted version of "The Wizard Of Oz," and an adaptation of "Alice In Wonderland" that hearkened back to the book more instead of the Disney movie.

"I also believe my ability to contribute to the local artistic community has greatly improved. Since directing plays at the Star Theater and the Norfleet Gallery Annex, my directorial skills have grown substantially," Redmon said.

"I've always found it fascinating that drama, acting, and art in general can break down so many barriers-social status, age, gender, or what have you," he said. "People from all different walks of life are involved in drama. It really brings people together, and that's probably my favorite thing about being an actor and director."
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