‘Door-slamming farce’ from TWS teens
Shane Burtker and Caitlin Williams in "Lucky Stiff" at Theatre of Western Springs.
High School Repertory Company, Children’s Theatre of Western Springs, 4384 Hampton Ave., Western Springs
7:30 p.m. Friday, July 27; 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29
(708) 246-4043 or visit www.theatreofwesternsprings.com
Updated: July 24, 2012 9:50PM
Harry Witherspoon is set to inherit a huge fortune from his late uncle’s estate but there are strings attached in Lynn Ahrens’ and Stephen Flaherty’s off-Broadway musical comedy, “Lucky Stiff.”
You won’t find out what those strings are from Colin Ashburn, though, even though he plays Harry for the High School Repertory Company of the Children’s Theatre of Western Springs. The 15-year-old La Grange actor declared, “I don’t want to give anything away but it is extremely confusing.”
Life gets good
Colin is willing to describe the character. “He is originally a British shoe salesman,” the Lyons Township High School junior said. “He doesn’t really have very much of a life going for him. He really does not enjoy life. Then he inherits this money and finally gets something to live for.”
Colin has performed with the Children’s Theatre of Western Springs since he was in fourth grade. He has also appeared in two adult shows at the theater, “Antigone,” when he was in sixth grade, and “The Lion in Winter” last year. Colin takes vocal lessons and plays several instruments.
Colin is particularly enjoying working in this show because, “I love the accents,” he said. His character is British but other characters have accents from Texas, New York, Italy and France, plus other places.
One of the complications that Colin’s character faces is Rita La Porta, played by 18-year-old Caitlin Williams of Clarendon Hills. “Rita is very much a mob wife,” Caitlin said. “She’s straight out of the mob in New York. She’s very over-emotional and charming but extremely manipulative.”
Caitlin, who started taking classes at the Theatre of Western Springs when she was in eighth grade, admitted that she enjoys playing the character because, “She’s in some ways very similar to me and she’s a little over-the-top in the way she handles things. I also like the ability to be probably the craziest character in the show.”
Rita was in a relationship with Harry’s wealthy uncle and through some strange circumstances, her money wound up in the uncle’s hands.
This fall, Caitlin will attend Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights. She will major in business communications and minor in theater.
Twenty-seven teens play more than 40 roles in the show so that even those actors who don’t have leads are very busy.
Fourteen-year-old Arman Haveric of Hinsdale, who will begin studying at Hinsdale Central High School in the fall, plays the Station Master, as well as a cabaret waiter and a leper, and he does a pantomime of another character in one scene.
Arman began acting at the Theatre of Western Springs when he was in third grade. He likes being onstage because, “It’s fun to entertain yourself and other people,” Arman said.
Teens are also busy behind the scenes. La Grange 18-year-old Maddie McDermott did the costuming. Her initial task was to make sure that the actors don’t change their appearance. “The first day I gave them a speech: ‘Please don’t dye your hair anymore. Please don’t cut your hair,’ ” she laughingly reported.
All dressed up
After that, it’s a matter of getting everyone’s sizes and then looking for costumes in the theater’s cage. “We have costumes from every period imaginable — tons and tons of stuff,” Maddie said. “It’s like going shopping. I can find everything I need in there.” The costumer created any costume pieces that she couldn’t find in the cage.
Being the costume design is a great change of pace of Maddie. “Normally during the year, I stage manage,” she said. “That’s a lot of technical work. The costuming that I do in the summer is a little freer and you have the ability to help people create their characters and insert people into a different world.”
The Lyons Township graduate will attend the University of Dayton in the fall, majoring in history and minoring in theater.
“This is our fifth summer doing musicals with the high schoolers,” said director Tripp Burton of Darien. “We try to change it around so they get experience doing different styles of musicals. We wanted to do something that was an all-out musical comedy this year. And this is a door-slamming farce with a lot of good music in it.”
Colin Ashburn believes audiences will love “Lucky Stiff” because, “It is completely spontaneous, crazy, but funny and, frankly, completely ridiculous.”