‘To Art and Beyond’ captures the imagination, teaches
THE POST-SIGNAL / Saja Hoffpauir
Members of the cast and crew of “To Art and Beyond” include, seated from left, Harrison Suire, Reagan Suire, Grant Suire, Charlotte Doucet, Jade Mueck, Evyn Shreve, Bryanna Barousse, Sierra Adams, Sidney Gilder; kneeling, Jake Grotefend, Joe Gall, Maggie Arsement, Tony Arsement, Patrick Cormier, Ben Gall; standing, Lauren Babineaux, Jessie Clayton, Daniel Gall, Wyatt Kennedy, Michaela Jabusch, Joseph Dupre, Mackinzie Clayton, Julia Sittig, Luke Arsement, Dilyn Shreve, Samantha Wright, Sara Wright. Also participating but not pictured are Ava LeBlanc (cast member), Katt Barousse (assistant director), Shawn LaCroix (producer), Patty Ronkartz (director), Desiree’ Doucet (choreographer), Susan Brammer (sets) and Keely Shreve (hair and make up).
BY SAJA HOFFPAUIR
Content-wise, the Teen Acadia Players’ “To Art and Beyond” may well be the best teen production of 2014.
The play centers around five students on an art museum field trip who learn to appreciate art on a personal level as several paintings “come to life.”
The play is narrated by two sculptures — Rodin’s “The Thinker” and Degas’ “Little Dancer of Fourteen Years” — played by Wyatt Kennedy and Samantha Wright, respectively. With a deep voice and thoughtful manner, Kennedy is excellent in his role. Wright is a perfect reproduction of the dancer, and her standing in position for the entire length of the play is a feat in and of itself.
As the students tour the museum, they encounter five paintings that each student relates to differently — “American Gothic” by Grant Wood, “Two Guides” by Homer Winslow, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, “I and the Village” by Marc Chagall and “Broadway Boogie-Woogie” by Piet Mondrian.
The “living paintings” are just plain cool. A framed window cut into the backdrop of the set serves as a template for the changing pictures. Each of the five paintings has an individual hand-painted background, and when the players in costume stand before them in the frame, the effect really is sort of magical.
While all of the cast members are strong in their roles, one standout is Daniel Gall, who plays Ron, one of the five students touring the museum, whose personal experience with the art comes via “American Gothic.”
With his backwards ball cap and freckles, Gall just “looks the part” of a mischievous school boy. When combined with his ease on stage and comic timing, the result is excellent.
Julia Sittig is notable in the role of the farmer’s daughter in “American Gothic” as she remains dour notwithstanding what is happening around her.
There is also something about young Joseph Dupre as the green man in “I and the Village.” His natural, unassuming presence lends itself well to his role as a Belarusian peasant.
In the end, this play is just as educational as it is interesting. As the students come to understand the paintings, they also come to understand the artists and their subjects, a process which includes a lot of interesting factual information and will leave the audience wanting more.
“To Art and Beyond” will be performed at the Acadia Parish Center for the Arts and Culture, 530 W. Mill St. in Crowley, at 6 p.m. on May 9 and 10, with matinee performances at 2 p.m. on May 10 and 11.
Adult admission is $10; students with IDs will be admitted for $5. Tickets are available at Crowley Flower Shop, www.theacadiaplayers.com or at the door prior to the show.