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'Aliens in My Closet'

Chantilly presents children's play written by Ed Monk.

All is well for 4-year-old Nicole and her teddy bear Fluffy until one night when goofy aliens from two, different planets decide to claim her bedroom for themselves.

HILARITY ENSUES, and the whole thing unfolds on stage in the Chantilly High Children's Theatre production of "Aliens in My Closet." Showtimes are Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 27, at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.

It's actually a revival of a children's play written by Chantilly Theater Director Ed Monk and performed several years ago at the school. Then, the aliens were after dust bunnies to use as currency on their planet; now, they want socks.

"It's neat because a lot of the actors remember coming to see this show, nine years ago, when they were little," said Monk. "And some of the juniors' and seniors' older siblings were in it when they were freshman and sophomores."

The play is double-cast because, he said, "We had 69 kids audition, and they were so good, we cast them all because we wanted to give them all a chance. They're mostly freshmen and sophomores, so we're excited to see the school's future talent, and we hope everyone comes to see the play."

Annie Haden, 14, plays Nicole. "She's afraid of the dark and of things coming out from under the bed to attack her and her teddy bear," said Haden. "She talks to her stuffed animals and clings to her parents."

She said it's cool playing this role because "you get to be goofy, and I love funny things. In a children's show, you have to project your voice and speak clearly. Your arms always have to be up and you talk to the audience, and not the people on stage, so the kids will be entertained. I think they'll really enjoy it because it's so funny."

Senior Michael Leonberger and sophomore Andrew Dugan share the role of Fluffy. "I move around and talk to Nicole and, together, we overcome being afraid of the dark," said Leonberger. "I'm afraid of lots of things and I cling to Nicole because she's my 'master' and she's brave, compared to me."

Eventually, he said, "We both realize that it's not as hard to be brave as we thought, so it's a heartwarming tale — but cool, too." He likes his part because he usually portrays a villain or oddball character, so "it's interesting to play someone who's innocent and sincere."

Leonberger said the toughest thing is figuring out how to move and display a range of emotions while in a bear costume. But it's nice to play a bear, he said, because "It's a childhood figure that children like. And the audience will dig the show because it's cute and entertaining and little kids will enjoy the story."

DUGAN LIKES getting to be the support for the main character and the one she turns to for help. And he's pleased to be smarter than Nicole because she's only 4.

He also likes his role because "Fluffy wears a blue, bear suit and gets to be up there on stage, the whole time, with Nicole. And we get to hide from aliens, so that's fun."

Michael Poandl, 15, plays the general of the army of the planet Pffft. "I'm authoritative and arrogant and feel I'm superior to all the other people in the room," he said.

"We've come to Nicole's bedroom because the planet of Palawallawanzapatooie (Palawalla) has taken it over and the two planets are fighting over who can own it," explained Poandl. "Pffft wants new land to settle on, and a pair of pioneer snake farmers from Pffft, Lem and his wife Patsy, have also come to stake a claim."

But aliens from the other planet want that bedroom because it's full of socks — which they call "kankles" — and which, on Palawalla, are money. And they're prepared to fight for it.

"I love my role because I shout and do whatever I want," said Poandl. "And children will love the show's big actions, loud voices and crazy characters. Adults will like it, too, because there's so much going on, on stage. It's a classic, Ed Monk children's show."

Sophomore Kelley Malloy also plays Nicole and says she's "cute and actually incredibly smart for a 4-year-old. She knows what radioactivity is. Nicole's also got a cute, little voice, and I get to whine and complain — which isn't acceptable when you get to 16."

Malloy said her part is "so much fun because Nicole gets to fight aliens — and what kid doesn't want to?"

Lisa Shea, 18, portrays Crinkle, an alien from Palawalla. "I'm an intergalactic, warriorlike alien, with war paint," she said. "And I'm Maj. Dufus' right-hand man and I check for radiation in Nicole's bedroom and look at him in adoration and agreement."

SHE'S EXCITED because it's her first children's show: "I don't have a lot of lines, but I get to be ridiculous, run around on stage and spit the word, Palawallawanzapatooie."

Shea calls her role "an outlet for my energy. I get to run around, yell and scream. And children will like the story because it's about aliens invading a kids bedroom, and we allude to things like Sponge Bob and the Nintendo Wii that kids will relate to."

Rizhna Chener, 15, plays Robot Floyd who, like her fellow aliens Peat Moss and Moon Pie, are from Pffft. But, she said, "I'm tired of being a robot and always being bossed around." Rizhna says she has to "stretch my thinking" for this part because "you want to show your emotions, but you can't because a robot wouldn't." She likes her part, though, because it's "goofy and cool."

Also playing aliens are Becky Schatt, Kelsey Martin, Carleen Abu and Katie Chin. Schatt liked meeting the other actors and Martin enjoyed being in an ensemble. Abu liked learning about "volume, listening and focusing" during rehearsals.

And Chin enjoys the interaction with the audience: "I like to hear the little kids laugh because it tells me we're doing a good job."