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One-Man Act

Mark Brutsche's minimalist take on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."

More than 10 years ago, Mark Brutsche found himself on stage at the Reston Community Center with no supporting cast and a script that didn't belong to the show he was meant to perform. But with a little participation from the audience and the willing suspension of disbelief — the show must go on. Of course, that wasn't so difficult considering the mishaps were all part of Brutsche's take on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."

According to Brutsche, a freelance actor living in Oak Hill, the idea for his annual performance came from watching episodes of "Fractured Fairy Tales" from "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." The performance begins with Brutsche arriving in a bear costume ready to perform "Goldie Locks and the Three Bears," only to find out that the cast is stranded in Kansas City. The problem is compounded by the premise that the audience has come to the theater expecting to see an entirely different play. Taking it all in stride, Brutsche decides to act out the entirety of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," with little more than a ladder and a few other props.

"He sets out to do the best he can," said Brutsche about the character. "Without intentionally doing it this way, it kind of follows the guidelines of British panto."

THE IDEA FOR THE ANNUAL performance came to Brutsche while instructing a class of young actors at the Reston Community Center. Tired of just explaining the theory of technique to his students, Brutsche thought it would be more powerful if he could devise a way to physically show them the lessons.

"I wanted to put a show together to show my students the techniques I was teaching them so they could see how it works — the energy that goes into it," he said. "When I was showing them how to act, my kids would say 'why don't you just play all the parts?'."

But before he could, Brutsche searched for "the most ridiculous one-man show" he could think of. That's when he came across "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."

"I thought, 'Oh man, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to have to be a quick change artist unless I can get away with wearing the same costume'."

From there, the act was created. Brutsche flushed out the details and decided that the story would work if the main character wasn't equipped to play all of the parts — especially if the character was under the impression that the play he had rehearsed wasn't the performance piece, forcing him to "wing it" in an intentional comedic performance.

While the difficulties on stage are scripted, Brutsche still has to tackle the art of a one-man show.

"The biggest single difficulty is getting up the energy to rehearse," he said. "You don't have anyone to play off of. The other thing is if something goes wrong, you are out there by yourself."

ALTHOUGH HIS ONE-MAN performance of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" has become somewhat of a tradition, Brutsche is calling it quits after this year's performance.

"I just figured that I should do something else," he said. "I'm thinking maybe of a similar technique but because Christmas time is a good time for it — maybe 'The Night Before Christmas'."

Brutsche performs "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" on Saturday, Dec. 16, 3 p.m. at the Reston Community Center, 23100 Colts Neck Road, Reston. Tickets are $10 and available at the Box Office. For more about Brutsche's performance, visit www.restoncommunitycenter.com.

— Christopher Staten