Amid brightly colored T-shirts, three dance breaks and a message to inspire even the most discouraged of hearts, “Miss Electricity” generates a pleasant amount of energy sure to entertain children of Baldwin County.
The Georgia College Department of Theatre debuted its electric play Monday Feb. 4 in the A&S Auditorium as part of the department’s “Family Series”. Viewed by members and children of the High Achievers Program and Baldwin County High School, “Miss Electricity” was received well with laughter, cheers and, at times, sympathetic sighs for the characters.
The play’s characters, however, will not be played by the same cast member as it continues to tour local elementary and middle schools.
An interesting quality to this production is director Iona Holder’s decision to have the cast learn every character’s part for upcoming performances of “Miss Electricity.”
“I pride myself on really challenging the actors and making them realize that they can achieve a lot more than they initially believe,” Holder said. “I think they were all a little terrified when I first told them, and then when they first started learning, they realized, ‘Wow! I really know it.’”
During the cast’s school tour, audience interaction will play a key role in the progression of the performance. In a way, each show will be a little different.
“We’ve been incorporating ways that the kids can come be a part of it too,” Holder said. “That’s going to be exciting, because then they’ll get to tell [cast members] which part they’re going to play. I really wanted to make it engaging. I think it’s important to engage children in more than just a two-dimensional way.”
As for Wednesday night’s performance, freshman theater major Codi Henson played Violet and found the experience to be very enjoyable.
“It was a lot different, being a children’s show and having to play a little kid, but it was really fun,” Henson said.
Violet wakes up one day and is determined to break a world record with the help of her “assistant,” Freddy. Referring to a book of world records, Violet decides to beat Ashrita Furman’s record of balancing on one foot for 76 hours, 35 minutes. Is it too obvious to mention that the fifth grader barely lasted seven minutes?
Down on her luck, Violet finds herself caught in the rain where she is struck by lightning, twice. She introduces herself as “Miss Electricity” to her schoolmates the next day, claiming to have powers to control electricity. Eventually overcome by the fame of obtaining her new identity, Violet tells Freddy to “zap off” and starts hanging out with cool kids, Billy the Bully and Connie.
Unbeknownst to Violet, or anyone witnessing her electric feats, all of her “Off!” commands to light bulbs and radios were made possible only by Freddy’s quick flick of a light switch or a sly removal of batteries. After trying and quickly failing to shut down her school in hopes of missing an unwanted state capitals test, Violet realizes she is not “Miss Electricity.”
She also realizes that Freddy was more than her world record assistant. He was her friend who thought she was special before she became caught up in the super-electric powers business.
After apologizing to Freddy, Violet promises to be a good friend as she now knows they both have been all along.
One could almost picture pages of a children’s book turning as the play developed with each scene. Through the constant energy and valuable lessons exuded from the cast, “Miss Electricity” is a storybook-come-to-life.
Julie Cook, educational coordinator of Baldwin County YES (Youth Enrichment Services) Program, said the play was a good teaching tool to her group of Baldwin County High School students.
“I thought it was wonderful,” Cook said, smiling. “It touched on so many things that these kids could use. It’s phenomenal. This had so many valuable lessons that they need to learn about true friends and education – and how important it is – and imagination. It just made me happy, made me feel good.”
The high school students in the audience, though older than the play’s recommended elementary to middle school age range, were engaged in the show and had no trouble allowing themselves to enjoy the show. This goal was achieved by the endlessly creative thought process of the show’s director.
“Part of the reason why I put three full dances is to keep the older kids engaged,” Holder said.
Cast members agreed that the production of “Miss Electricity” was made possible by an impeccable amount of teamwork.
“It was really a collaborative experience,” Sam Wilson, sophomore theater major who played Freddy, said. “Everyone was pulling their weight. Everyone was contributing. It’s just a group of people that just mesh together so well.”
Holder plans to take the play to Twin Lakes Library, Milledgeville Mall and children’s hospitals, along with local elementary and middle schools.
“Miss Electricity” will return to GC for its final performance April 17.