Telling the familiar children’s story “The Three Bears” with music and dance numbers is one way that the Elden Street Players “Something Different 2002” will cause audiences to pay close attention to what might come next.
“The dance numbers are challenging to perform,” said David Sher, a member of an ensemble cast that will perform six children’s stories as the ninth year of “Something Different” opens Saturday, March 30 at the Industrial Strength Theatre in Herndon. “She didn’t cast dancers,” said Sher of his director-wife Holly Harrington.
“It’s fun this way and kids like music,” said cast member Marie Turner. “And it’s a good way to break up the show. We took familiar tunes and rewrote songs that relate to the story,” she said, citing the example of “The Rain in Spain,” becoming “The trees for bees blow gently in the breeze.”
“There are four songs that took several weeks to recreate. It takes time to butcher songs,” joked cast member Jim Wachhaus. “Let’s call it tender adaptation,” he said, correcting himself.
Wachhaus admitted that his most challenging, and also his favorite, role in the series of skits is playing a dancing chair in “The Three Bears.” “Do you know how hard it is to coordinate a hat and feet? It’s kind of like learning a manual transmission,” he said.
“ALL THE STORIES are open to a ‘Something Different’ interpretation — except ‘How Coyote Got Fire’ — that was untouchable — and we interpret widely,” said Sher.
“How Coyote Got Fire” are straight stories from American Indian legend, said Harrington. “They have a mystical feeling of their own. There’s no need to reinterpret,” she said.
“Motubo’s Good Fortune” is a morality story, said Harrington. “It’s an African version of the ‘Cinderella’ story, but there’s no glass slipper or any wicked step-anything. There are two girls, both beautiful, one greedy, one passionate and full of love. There is a lesson learned in the end,” said Harrington, without divulging the ending.
In “Rapunzel,” a universally known fairy-tale, “the kicker is the big finale,” said Sher. “Retaining its more traditional aspects is as traditional as ‘Something Different’ gets,” he said.
“My favorite role, hands down, is playing the wife in ‘Rapunzel,’ said cast member Karen Wachhaus. “I get to act opposite Dave. He brings out the humorous side of me in acting,” she said.
Vanessa Moir’s favorite role is also in “Rapunzel.” “I’m playing a wicked witch – which I enjoy playing. It’s more fun to play evil than good,” she said, also playing the evil sister in “Motubo.”
ON THE FLIP SIDE is Christine Lange, making her “Something Different” debut. “I get to be playful and exuberant. And I get away with a lot of shtick,” she said of her favorite role, Baby Bear in “The Three Bears.”
Happy she is not typecast, Turner said her favorite role is the turtle in “Brer Rabbit.” “I like it because it’s my chance not to be a mother or maiden. It’s an opportunity to make the character my own,” she said.
Playing no characters, but narrating each story is Anne Kight Lloyd. “I enjoy this because I get to tell the story.”
“She’s the pulse of the show,” said Harrington. “She sets the timing and does an incredible job.”
“Something Different 2002” opens on Saturday, March 30 at the Industrial Strength Theatre on Sunset Park Drive in Herndon with performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $4. For more information, call 703-481-5930.