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'Out of the Box' stars local students

"New Musical at WICAOut of the Box, a new musical for children, premieres at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12-13, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 14, 2: p.m. All Seats, $5; call the box office at 221-8268. Audiences are encouraged to order their tickets in advance, as seating is limited.Whidbey Island Center for the Arts is off in a new direction again. Next weekend WICA will present Out of the Box, a new family musical written by island artists Elise Forier and Tina Lear, directed by Whidbey Children's Theatre founder Martha Murphy, choreographed by Amy Windecker, and featuring performances by local students from Langley Middle School.The play tells the story of a magical journey which begins in a world where everyone is born with a box, and whatever is inside that box is you. A group of misfits sets out to discover what might lie outside the box. The fable addresses issues of diversity and tolerance, and features tuneful songs, wild adventures and plenty of magic and mayhem.Out of the Box was originally commissioned and performed in 1997, by the Kerr Center Children's Theatre Project in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kerr Center Artistic Director Todd Smeltzer hired Forier to write a script with roles for 40 children, with a minimum of scenery and few tech requirements. He said he had some boxes I could use for the set, Forier said. So I said I'd see what I could do. Although the project was successful, Forier thought there was more work to be done on the play. I thought it would make a really neat musical play for children. It was one of those ideas I filed away, hoping for the right opportunity to come up.That opportunity arrived earlier this year, when Forier was having lunch with local singer/composer Tina Lear in Sapori's cafe. Lear mentioned she had always wanted to write lyrics and music for plays. A short time later, Forier handed her copy of the script, and the project was on its way.Lear has not only written music and lyrics for Out of the Box, she has also taken over musical direction during rehearsals, and will act and sing the role of the dictatorial Teacher in the play itself.“We hope that this project will be the first of many collaborations between local children and WICA,” Forier said. “And Tina and I have really enjoyed working together. I have tremendous admiration for Tina's work. She has great talent, enthusiasm and sensitivity. Forier added that it has been wonderful to have the energy and enthusiasm of young people at WICA on a regular basis. Martha Murphy has been doing a great job directing the kids. This is sure to be a really good show, Forier said. Leading roles will be played by Ashley Mergens, Matthew Gregory, Katherine East, Orson Ossman, Clynton Easley, Stephanie Metz, Elise Cole and Ryan Karamanyan, with other roles being played by over twenty other cast members.This production of Out of the Box is made possible in part by a Washington State Arts Commission Arts in Education Initiative grant, which was awarded to WICA earlier this year. The grant provides funds for Langley Middle School students and teachers to take free workshops in performing arts from local professional artists. The workshops all culminate in a community event at WICA. Out of the Box is the first of these community events; a student film opening in December, and a dance recital in April of 2000, are also scheduled. Additional funding has been provided by WhidbeyNet and the Boeing Company."

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