TOWNSHEND - Leland & Gray (L&G) Players’ Summer Performing Arts Exploration 2014 (SPAE) will present a culminating performance Friday and Saturday, Aug. 8 and 9 in L&G’s Dutton Gymnasium where the program began July 27.

SPAE is in its seventh summer offering workshops in music, design, dance, lighting, sound, and puppetry. The program is directed by Karlie Kauffeld, L&G ‘09; Abby Wicker, L&G ‘02, and Emily Fuller, L&G ‘08. Managed by L&G Players’ director, Ann Landenberger, SPAE’s staff includes alumni Patrick Hauer and Nicole Winot, and L&G students Jesse Cannella, Rachael Turner, Kenny Cashman, Nathaniel vanOsdol, Tino Benson, Nastia Stevens, Rebekah Winot, Sage Hall. Workshop leaders include camp staff as well as L&G music director, Ron Kelley; Bread and Puppet puppeteer, Cate Kelley; Cassidy Anderson ‘11; Sarah Dickson ‘12, and Governor’s Institute of Vermont teacher, Marcel Freda.

The SPAE 2014 production is The Phantom Tollbooth adapted from Norman Juster’s story by Kauffeld, Fuller and Wicker. The story is this: Milo is a bored boy who doesn’t find any excitement in his world. When a Tollbooth mysteriously appears out of the blue in his bedroom directing him to go on through, his eyes are opened to a world of learning, laughing, and bizarre characters. He meets Tock, the literal watchdog, a Garden Gnome, and Millie - a runaway from the King’s royal court.


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Together they set out to rescue Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason who’ve been banished from the Kingdom of Wisdom, leaving it in a state of disarray. Along the way they meet many obstacles and demons, and learn many lessons. It is an adventure full of song, word plays, and a giant puppet!

According to Kauffeld, music educator in Grand Isle, the overarching question posed throughout the program has been: "Why do we make art? Why do we paint or sing or dance or write or act? The answer is different for everyone," Kauffeld acknowledges, "and at this year’s SPAE we have investigated why it is that we make art--collectively and individually.

The performance incorporates skills in voice, design, lighting, music, sound, movement and production that have been introduced in the program. Kauffeld notes: "The culminating show is the tool to teach the children different skills - acting, singing, dance, design, crew work." "The show is the reward;" Wicker adds, "but the process of working on it offers the richest learning."

Participants include past SPAE-ers, Veronica Stevens, Vinnie Ferrizzi, Andrew Tolbert, Ellie Longo, Fairen Stark, Julia Assogba-Slowik, Alice Coyne, Christian Cannella, Maggie Adams, Jessop Burrow. Nicolas Tolbert, Sam Thibault, joined by new participants Hope Thibault, Sydney Chase, Madison Chase, Avarie Fitzpatrick, Kristen Munson, Izzy Jarvis-Stores. James Jarvis-Stores. Sylvia Stark, Trey Crego, Isabel McCarthy, Peter Broussard, Deven Wicker, Callie Wicker, Dea Burrow.

Their show will be presented Friday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 9 at 2:30 p.m., in the Dutton Gymnasium on Route 30 in Townshend.

Admission is by donation to SPAE, a performing arts program for youth in West River Valley and beyond. For more information, contact Ann Landenberger at verbatim@ svcable.net or 802-348-7156.