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Apple Hill's 'Sleeping Beauty' aims to keep kids laughing

| Friday, July 17, 2009

Apple Hill Playhouse presents a humorous twist to a classic fairy tale in its Johnny Appleseed Children's Theatre production of "Briar Rose -- The Tale of Sleeping Beauty."

Nina Cotroneo of Delmont, an eighth-grade student at Franklin Regional Middle School, plays the title role, although her character is not the conventional Sleeping Beauty, who is awakened from a 100-year slumber by a romantic kiss from a handsome prince.

In this fractured fairy tale written by Stephen Hotchner, "The prince is shy, and he tries to wake her by singing 'Funky Town,'" says Angie Lavelle of Derry, who portrays the queen. An 11th-grader at Derry Area High School, Lavelle is getting a kick out of the silliness written into the script.

"The family of Briar Rose is dysfunctional, and she resents me because I try to organize celebrations, and she doesn't want any of that," Lavelle says. "The queen is the most fun character I have ever played. I get to run around, basically hyperventilating and screaming at everybody and getting stressed out all during the show."

Lavelle played the title role in "Winnie the Pooh" at Apple Hill in 2008 and has acted in her school productions of "M*A*S*H" and the musicals "Annie" and "Peter Pan."

Cotroneo says that Sleeping Beauty does manage to get a kiss from the prince, but this is not her first stage kiss. "Last year, I had to kiss Jesus on the cheek in a production of 'Godspell' (in her role of Judas at Apple Hill's summer camp)," she says. "This one is on the lips. I wasn't real excited about it, but my mom said it's good acting experience and you just have to go with it."

Directing "Briar Rose" is Sarah Eidemiller, a sophomore psychology major at St. Vincent College, who calls this show "hilarious."

"The prince is too shy to kiss the beautiful princess, his sidekick is a very sensitive two-headed troll, the queen is always on the verge of a mental breakdown, and the king couldn't care less about anything going on," she says. "The good fairy and evil fairies are twin sisters, and they are totally opposites in every way possible."

Eidemiller says she has added a lot to the script to make it even funnier.

"The kids respond really well to things I add in, which is really great," she says. "The show in general gets the audience involved, and I think the children will always be on the edge of their seats laughing and participating."

The cast also includes Troy Anderson of Harrison City, as the king; William Snyder, Murrysville, baker; Quade Simek, Export, prince; Logan Smith, Plum, and Maggie Klingensmith, Murrysville, two-headed troll; Anissa Park, Murrysville, and Caitlin Young, Irwin, fairies; and as doomed princes, Andrew Roote, Delmont; and Jacob Russell and Joshua Russell, Pittsburgh.

Additional Information:

'Briar Rose • The Tale of Sleeping Beauty'

When : 11 a.m. Tuesday and July 23, 24, 28, 30 and 31

Admission : $7

Where : Apple Hill Playhouse , Delmont

Details : 724-468-5050

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