‘Bridge To Terabithia’ Swings Through Flex Theatre
Terabithian royalty is enchanting the Flex Theatre Friday and Saturday in No Refund Theatre’s latest production of “Bridge to Terabithia.” The stage adaptation mixes narrative characteristics from Katherine Paterson’s 1977 novel and the 2007 film starring Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb in a story about an artistic fifth grader named Jesse Aarons, who befriends a new neighbor, Leslie Burke. The two become quick friends after Leslie beat Jesse in a foot race, and unite as outcasts in a shared imaginative world called Terabithia, where they are royalty.
The director of the show, Abbie Jansen, worked to adapt a fantasy setting on stage. “The set was definitely the most challenging part, we kind of went with the approach of how a kid would build terabithia because to them it’s real,” Jansen said. “They just did such a good job acting like little kids.”
Actors Katie Blankemeyer and Sebastian Pellegrini enjoyed their fifth grade roles as Leslie and Jesse. “It was really fun, you get to let loose a lot more than you do with adult characters,” Blankemeyer said. “I tried to master the squeaky voice,” Pellegrini said. “It didn’t work, but right now I have a bit of a cold helping me out.”
Watching college students interact on stage as 11-year-old bullies is as hilarious on stage as Blankemeyer remembers it in rehearsal, “It took so long to get through those scenes without laughing. It’s one thing when there’s just two of us pretending to be little kids, but when there’s like six or seven of us pretending to be twelve years old, it’s really funny.”
As Jansen put it, this is a darker children’s story, and the light tone of the first act soon turns more sinister in the second, as the cast carries the audience excellently into the cathartic experience of a tragic loss.
“Bridge to Terabithia” is a story about friendship, imagination, loss, and self discovery. It’s showing in the Flex Theatre on Jan. 29 and 30 at 9 p.m., and as with all NRT shows, admission is free.
Visit NRT’s Facebook event page for more information.