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College, community to stage holiday production, 'Saving Toyland'

Barry McNamara
Galen Hughes (Jane), Miles Rose (Barnaby) and Conner DeVilder (Alan) rehearse a scene from “Saving Toyland,” which will be staged at the College’s Wells Theater Nov. 16-19.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – The actors and audience alike figure to have a good time during Monmouth College’s production of Saving Toyland, which will run Nov. 16-19 at the College’s Wells Theater.

Director Ron Zank, who adapted the script from the operetta Babes in Toyland by Glen MacDonough and Victor Herbert, says the 90-minute production is “good for this time of year.”

“It’s goofy, it’s silly, and no joke or pun is too cheap,” said Zank of the holiday show, which is being produced in partnership with the Buchanan Center for the Arts. “It’s pretty much a romp, with everyone having a good time. Pretty much, ‘Let’s run around, tell some jokes and chase each other.’”

Not only will the production be family friendly, but children are also in the cast. Zank said there are 11 child cast members, along with four adults from the community. The rest of the 30-member cast is composed of Monmouth College students.

Some of the Monmouth students in lead roles are Amanda Grissom ’19 of Eldridge, Iowa (Contrary Mary); Miles Rose ’19 of Princeton, Ill. (Cyrus Barnaby); and Galen Hughes ’19 of Genoa, Ill. (Jane).

“We have theatre majors and non-majors, children and adults,” said Zank, who joined Monmouth’s theatre faculty last year. “It’s a really big mix.”

Zank’s adaptation centers around the mishaps that occur in Toyland when Mother Goose flies the coop and no one knows where to find her. Among the issues: something is seriously wrong with the Christmas toys being made; and Little Miss Muffet, Jack and Jill, and the other nursery rhyme characters aren’t even rhyming. Can Tom Tom, the Piper’s Son and the rest figure out what’s going on and help save Toyland?

“I’ve known Babes in Toyland for a long time through various film and stage versions,” said Zank. “It’s never the same way twice. We do this community show every year, and it’s at least sort of holiday-themed, so I said, ‘Let’s make this happen.’ I started the script last spring.”

Saving Toyland is Zank’s fifth adaptation. His most recent was a film noir version of Oedipus Rex, staged by the College last year. He has also adapted The Pied Piper, A Wrinkle in Time and The Book of Magics.

Monmouth College will present Saving Toyland at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16-18 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 at Wells Theater. Tickets can be purchased online at Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a Monmouth College ID.