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'Reluctant Dragon' to open Thursday

An enchanting play about a reluctant dragon and a boy who befriends her opens at the Duluth Playhouse on Thursday. Called "The Reluctant Dragon," this is the second production of the Duluth Playhouse Children's Theatre this season, and it is full...

An enchanting play about a reluctant dragon and a boy who befriends her opens at the Duluth Playhouse on Thursday.
Called "The Reluctant Dragon," this is the second production of the Duluth Playhouse Children's Theatre this season, and it is full of humor and good acting, a feather in the cap for all the young actors in the cast.
"It's a very charming play," said Emily Lanik Parr, who directs the play as well as the Playhouse Children's Theatre Arts Program. "It's just a cute, charming tale, and it has good messages, too."
The play features 34 budding young actors on stage as well as 10 behind the scenes. Like all Children's Theatre productions, this play brings young actors to the fore.
"The only adults are the set designer, Brian Lukasavitz, myself and the costumer, Pat Castellano," Lanik Parr said. "We try to offer kids the opportunity to experience live theater and improve their acting skills."
"The Reluctant Dragon" features plenty of fine talent. Megan Shuey plays the dragon, a wonderful, shy beast who wants humans to leave her alone so she can enjoy the view from her cave and write poetry.
She has a human friend, too, John, played by Sam Bolen, who feels protective toward her. After all, they write poetry together.
But his parents, played by Kaih Luke and Zac White, warn him away from the dragon. Dragons are dangerous, they tell him.
When a village boy, Ulrich, played by Rejis Weinzirl and his sister, played by Rachel Marsh, also discover the dragon hiding in her cave, they aren't so charmed and rush back to inform the villagers of their find.
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Hysterical, the villagers call on St. George, played by Paul Winchester, to kill the beast.
The play is entertaining for all ages, and the children are having a great time putting it on, Lanik Park said.
"It's really been a fun process," Lanik Parr said. "This is a very energetic group of kids."
This production is only one part of the Children's Theatre Arts Program at the Playhouse.
Started last fall to offer acting opportunities for children in the Twin Ports, the Theatre Arts Program offers classes for children in the community, a summer theater arts workshop as well opportunities for teens to get involved in the Peer Education Players, which perform in schools throughout the Arrowhead region.
"There are so many kids who want to be involved in live theater in Duluth," Lanik Parr said. "We try to offer enough opportunities that they can get experience and improve their acting skills. Hopefully, as the program grows, we'll do more productions and get more kids involved. That's our hope."
At this point, 64 children from ages 7 through 18 are enrolled in four classes in the program. The classes meet weekly for a 15-week course, and the children learn everything from how to cry to how to strike a set.
Some of the budding actors in "The Reluctant Dragon" are students in the Theatre Arts Program, but not all.
"Our productions are a component of the Theatre Arts Program, but anybody can try out for these," she said. "We had 100 kids audition for the show. Some of the kids in the play are in the classes, but we pick whomever is best for the roles."
"The Reluctant Dragon" is the second production this season. The Children's Theatre staged "Pegora the Witch" last fall, which was a big hit. "The Reluctant Dragon" should be no exception.
"Dragon" opens at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 5, and runs through the weekend with a show at 7 p.m. Friday, and two shows on Saturday and Sunday, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 for children and $7 for adults. For tickets, call 733-7555.

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