Performers bring children's tales to life with unique music, comedy

Posted: Thursday, October 09, 2003

Some things improve with age, especially when they are timeless to begin with. It has been nearly 10 years since Linda Rosenthal brought her "Strings and Stories" show to the Kenai Peninsula, but the show and the children's stories showcased in it are as fun today as they were the last time they were performed here.

"They're wonderful stories. They just don't ever grow old," said Jean Brockel with the Performing Arts Society, the group that is presenting the performance at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School.

Rosenthal, a violinist from Juneau who teaches, performs and directs an annual music festival there, developed "Strings and Stories" for the 1995 Imagination Celebration at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Since then she has taken the show on tour through the United States and Canada.


Bill Blush

Photo courtesy of the Performing Arts Society

The show is a combination of music and storytelling done by Rosenthal, who provides the music with her violin, and Los Angeles actor Bill Blush. Together the duo breathe new life into classic stories like "Ferdinand the Bull" and "The Emperor's New Clothes." The show also includes cultural stories that are not as well known and some new material added since the last time the show was performed here.

Blush himself is a new addition to the show. He has been involved in acting, writing and directing and plans to pursue a career in theater education. He and Rosenthal team-ed up for "Strings and Stories" after Rosenthal brought it to the peninsula last time, and his love for comedy makes him a good addition to the children's show.

"The have polished and perfected it and added some new things," Brockel said. "Now (Rosenthal) works with Bill and he has added some of his ideas and thoughts and they've been touring all over the U.S. and Canada with (the show)."

Rosenthal contracted with composers to write music for the show that corresponds with the stories, so none of it will be songs that have been heard before, except at prior "Strings and Stories" performances.

The presentation of the show is basic, as far as costume, staging and special effects go.

"There's no glitz," Brockel said. "Two people stand on stage tell you a story and there's music to go with it."

The show doesn't need gimmicks or special effects to make it enthralling, however.

"The last time I was thoroughly entranced with the show and the stories," Brockel said. "It's real basic yet the magic of theater is what happens. It is like magic, two people walk on the stage and just entrance you. Something happens there between actor, music and audience."

Tickets for "Strings and Stories" are $5 for children up to age 18 and $10 for adults. Tickets are available at the door, at River City Books and Northcountry Fair in Soldotna and Alaska Gift and Gallery and Already Read Books in Kenai.

The show will be about an hour with no intermission. Brockel recommends it for children and adults.

"Anybody who enjoys a good story well told will love this show," she said. "There's not a lot of glitz and not a lot of hype, but it really is family entertainment. I'm hoping everybody will show up and bring all the kids they can find."

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