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Raleigh Little Theatre will present The Emperor’s New Clothes, Greg Atkins’ 1998 children’s musical based on the familiar fairy tale — first published in Danish on April 7, 1837 — by Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75), March 11-26 in RLT’s Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre. RLT associate education director Kathleen Rudolph will direct the show.
Rudolph says, “I know the story from sometime in my childhood, and [I have] always thought it was great that someone with such power could be fooled! RLT did The Emperor’s New Clothes in 1997; and I saw that production, which I thought was quite funny.”
She adds, “I like the fact that the roles are not age specific. I have a cast that consists of folks age 11-70. I love multi-generational casting, because I feel each age learns a lot from another. I wanted to direct the show because I love the thought of bringing a well-known story to life and being able to see all those little faces light up when they see the set and costumes (or lack thereof).”
Rudolph says, “The Emperor’s New Clothes begins with Father (Larry Evans) and Young Roland (Jarrod Swart) arriving in town to start another of their many adventures, most of them unsuccessful. They come into town just as the town folk are preparing for the Emperor’s (Jerry Zieman) daily shopping spree. This gives Father the idea of tricking the Emperor, taking all the fine silks and jewels, but giving nothing in return.
“The members of the Royal Court — The Minister of Fashion (Linda O’Day Young), The Sultan of Style (Marcel Byes), The Duchess of Dressing Up (Kimberly Genna), The Grand Poohba of Toiletries (William Sarratt), The Overlady of Overdressing (Ruth Berry), and The Underlord of Underwear (Scott Lommel) — all are very suspicious,” Rudolph explains, “but are afraid to say anything, because the Father has told them that only the intelligent will be able to see the fine garments. In the end, the Emperor decides that less is better and hires the Father and Young Roland to make magical clothing for the whole town.”
In addition to director Kathleen Rudolph, the RLT production team for this show includes assistant director Jamie Powell, choreographer Kaitlin Rudolph, set designer Rick Young, lighting designer Roger Bridges, costume designer Vicki Olson, sound designer Haskell Fitz-Simons, and vocal coach Patsy Clarke.
Kathleen Rudolph says, “The Emperor’s Room consists of a platform with many arched doorways, so the Emperor can go behind [them] and change his clothes. The Page has her own tower, and there is a swinging door that leads from the Emperor’s room to the Tailor Shop, which houses the loom. When we are in the town, the loom disappears; and the platform archways open to reveal a town scene.”
In describing the show’s lighting scheme, Rudolph notes, “There will be specific colors for each of the Royals as they get introduced [— colors] based on their personality. There will be a different color scheme for the Emperor’s room and the Tailor shop. Roger [Bridges] will use some quick light ‘spots’ to accent a moment or two.”
When it came to selecting costumes for the show, Rudolph says, “I decided that because this [show] was targeted at the very young audience, it was important that the costumes be colorful and fun. Vicki [Olson] and I thought that costuming from all different periods of time would be hysterical; and so I have Louis XIV, the Roaring 20’s, and Shakespearean costumes all in one play.”
Staging this show on RLT’s “second stage” presents a number of creative challenges to director Kathleen Rudolph and the show’s production team. Rudolph says, “One challenge is that [The Emperor’s New Clothes has] a cast of 18 that are all on stage at the same time in some scenes, and the Gaddy Goodwin Theatre is not the largest space. It was like choreographing or putting a puzzle together.”
She says, “Another challenge is that some of my actors are veterans, and some have never done an RLT show before, so there is lots of juggling to be sure everyone is aware of how things work. The 1997 production was quite simple; this one will be very technical. There is an average of a cue a minute with all the light and sound changes that go on.
“I have also added short dances to each of the royals’ entrances, so it is fun but intricate,” says Kathleen Rudolph. “The scenic designer’s (Rick Young) challenge is to make the Gaddy into the Emperor’s Inner Room, the Tailor Shop, and the town — with minimal changes.”
Raleigh Little Theatre presents The Emperor’s New Clothes Friday, March 11, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 12, at 1 and 5 p.m.; Sunday, March 13, at 1 p.m.; Thursday-Friday, March 17-18, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 19, at 1 and 5 p.m.; Sunday, March 20, at 1 p.m.; Thursday-Friday, March 24-25, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, March 26, at 1 p.m. in RLT’s Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $12 ($8 students). 919/821-3111. Note: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive listening devices will be available for all shows. Raleigh Little Theatre: http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/emperor.htm [inactive 4/06]. Hans Christian Andersen: http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/index_e.html [inactive 8/06]. The Emperor’s New Clothes: http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/register/info_e.html?vid=17 [inactive 8/06].