Family Room

Skyler Ambrose directs the cast of “Tales from Japan”

They say talent can only take you so far. Hard work has to back it up. This week’s column on two new family-friendly theater ventures coming up highlights some of the talented hardworking people in our area, whose main goals are to support each other and have fun doing it.

‘Tales from Japan’

Skyler Ambrose did her first show with Rutland Youth Theatre when she was 5 years old. Fifteen years later she’s the first alumna to write something produced by the organization.

At a rehearsal at the Courcelle Building last week, a cast of 26 students of all ages a scene from Ambrose’s “Tales from Japan,” which opens at 7 p.m., March 8, at the Rutland Intermediate School Theater.

Little girls with mouse ears, one with a hat like a bird beak and the rest wearing bright ly colored kimonos huddled around a storyteller reading from a book. The play is a collection of scenes from Japanese folktales, “an adaptation of traditional stories,” Ambrose said during a rehearsal break.

Last summer she typed up a proposal for RYT Producer Saskia Hagen Groom, got the OK and spent the next three months studying at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyotanabe, Kyoto, Japan, where she wrote the play.

“It took me about three months to write,” explained Ambrose, 20, who directs and adapted the stories for the stage. “I was writing every chance I got.”

“I’ve been studying Japanese for about three years and (certain) stories came up a lot,” she added. “These four were some of my favorites.”

“Tales from Japan” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, March 8, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at Rutland Intermediate School Theater at 65 Library Ave. Tickets are $8, $6 for children and seniors; for information, go online to www.rutlandrec.com/theatre.

Tales from Greece

“The whole point of this is fun,” Diane Liccardi said over coffee downtown last week.

She’s talking about the musical “Mama Mia!” which she’s co-producing as the Paramount Players’ first-ever production, and auditions begin next week. If you don’t know the musical, it follows a mother, her daughter and three possible dads against the backdrop of ABBA’s hit songs.

The lighthearted story unfolds on a Greek island where, on the night before her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.

Liccardi says the main reason for producing the show is for fun, “and to showcase the talent that exists right here, people you would have no idea can sing,” she said. “This is something (director) Tim (Rice) and I have talked about for a long time.”

With 12 lead roles and a chorus of about 20, the all-ages show will pull talent from Rutland County and beyond. Auditions are by appointment during the week of March 31, and though that’s still some time away, actors are encouraged to schedule as soon as possible, by emailing Music Director David Castonguay at dcastong@radford.edu. In the meantime, the Paramount’s website (www.paramountvt.org) has all the information, including downloadable music tracks with background so you can practice.

The Paramount Theatre will present the musical Nov. 1-3. Rehearsals begin this summer.

“This is really for the community,” Liccardi said. “There’s a lot of talent in this community, especially musical.”

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