COOS BAY — At one time, not too long ago, children’s theater performances abounded in Coos Bay. However, as local theaters fell on hard times, those types of plays became fewer and harder to find.
Enter the Dolphin Playhouse, with hopes of helping to lead a resurgence. After holding a theater camp for middle school children earlier this year, for the first time, the Dolphin’s just opened their first children’s theater performance.
“The Bad Children” opened Friday night inside the theater at 580 Newmark Ave., in the Empire district of Coos Bay. It continues on weekends through Aug. 10.
Alice Carlson, the Dolphin’s manager and matriarch, says children’s theater has always been close to her heart.
“(It) is something I majored in, in college, and loved doing it,” she said, as some of her young performers zipped by after a recent rehearsal. “I think children learn a lot from theater, and children learn a lot from being involved in theater.”
It should be noted that while there are some children in the cast and the material is suitable for younger audiences, children’s theater typically has something in it for every member of the family to enjoy.
“The Bad Children” is taken from a Shirley Jackson short story about the Hansel and Gretel story, but in this version Hansel and Gretel are really awful little brats and the witch is college educated,” explained Carlson. “She doesn’t really want anything to do with the children and wants to send them home to their mother and father, who don’t want them either.”
There is also a talking rabbit and an enchanter, who lives in a hollow tree and has a friendly spell-casting competition with the witch.
Theresa Erskine, in her first Dolphin production, plays the witch and brings a long resume of memorable roles in local theater. Most recently, Erskine directed the popular “Oliver!” musical at Little Theater On The Bay. She shares this stage with a new generation of community actors, including Naia Duggan as Gretel and Moira O'Bryan as Hansel, with McKenzie Rescorla filling in for both roles.
Friday performances are at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m., with one Thursday performance Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $5 for children 12 and under. Reservations can be made by calling 541-808-2611, or going to the website at thedolphinplayers.webs.com. Tickets will also be available at the door, but the Dolphin Playhouse has limited seating.
The theater is a nonprofit organization, with all money raised going back to its programming. At least some of which will be going toward more programs for young actors.
“We’re just hoping to broaden our programming so that we can provide quality children’s theater,” Carlson added. “I think this is something we will try to do again, at least once a year, and maybe more.”