Theater students tour elementary schools, entertain range of ages

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Theater students spread laughter to St. George elementary children this month and held full-house, on-campus performances last week as they shared the story of a mouse.

Members of the DSU children’s theatre class, or THEA 2220, have been touring elementary schools in St. George since the beginning of March, performing the play “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse.”  The play is based on Kevin Henkes’ book about a mouse named Lily who experiences a handful of life dilemmas with the help of her family and friends.

In addition to performing “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse” at St. George elementary schools, the children’s theater class members performed April 15 and 17 in the Eccles Black Box Theater for DSU audiences.

Theater adviser Hanna Rahilly said while the children’s theater class is offered only during spring semester, every student enrolled in the class is guaranteed a part in the play, which varies from year to year.

Each showing of “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse” boasted a full house, and the students filled the theater with laughter. The play took hard work and dedication, but the good comments made it all worth it, Rahilly said.

“If you are willing to fully commit to this class, it is so much fun and very rewarding, especially when you get to see the kids’ reactions to you,” said Jurnee Olsen, a freshman theater major from Layton, who played the lead character, Lily in other performances.

With only nine students enrolled in this semester’s class, some students were given the opportunity to play more than one role. In addition to Olsen, Liza Teo, a sophomore theater major from Long Beach, Calif., also played the lead character, Lily.

Teo said her performance in “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse” was her first chance to perform at DSU, and she said she loved every minute of it. She said playing Lily was a challenge, but it gave her a chance to show her energetic side.

“At the end, when you finish giving a performance and you see how happy the kids are, and when they raise their hands to comment … that just makes me really happy,” Teo said.

Rahilly said touring the elementary schools gave students good practice for real theater outside of DSU.

“[Children’s theater] is a fun opportunity to act way younger and portray the younger you,” said Spencer Rice, a sophomore integrated studies major from West Valley, who played the characters The Bully and Lily’s baby brother, Julius.

Rahilly said the children’s theatre class students will continue to put on productions similar to “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse” and tour elementary schools for years to come. She also said all DSU students can enroll in the class if they wish for the opportunity to perform on stage or the chance to broaden their acting experience. 

Written by Sabryna Tesch