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Teens let their hair down in NWCTs Rapunzel Uncut rock musical

by: DAVID KINDER Stephanie Roessler, a freshman at Lakeridge High School, plays  the part of German rock star KeDMha, as well as a lamb and a cactus in NWCT's "Rapunzel Uncut."

Get set for a hip new tale of the girl with the tresses trapped in a tower with Northwest Children's Theater's world premiere of 'Rapunzel Uncut.' With a live youth band, this indie rock musical full of humor and adventure features a hapless lad, evil powers and a twist on the traditional tangled tale.

When a pair of naïve young parents (Peter Schuyler and Whitney Martin) make an unwise bargain with a crone (Jenny Standish Bunce) they end up losing their newborn daughter, Rapunzel (Rebecca Fitzgerald), in the process.

Wanting to protect her adopted daughter from the dangers of the outside world, the crone raises Rapunzel in a 40- foot tower. Here she dreams of the outside world, her only companions are an indie rock band comprised of magic vegetables and a talking lemon tree (John Ellingson). When young suitor/failed pretzel salesman Werther (Joshua James Hooper) stumbles across her tower, Rapunzel sets out on a rock music-filled journey through desert and forest to discover her true roots.

'This is the story of a young girl learning to trust her own instincts and vision of the world,' said director Sarah Jane Hardy. 'Rapunzel is independent, expressive and playful, which makes her a perfect fit for the indie rock scene.'

The play features Lake Oswego actress Stephanie Roessler as German indie rocker KeDMha.

'My character demonstrates to Rapunzel how different life is outside the tower,' Roessler said. 'I also play a lamb and a cactus, whom Rapunzel meets when she is banished to the desert.'

Audiences may remember Roessler as 'the kid' in NWCT's productions of 'Robin Hood' and 'Go Dogs, Go!' She has been involved in local theater since she was 8.

'It's really cool to have a live band in the show,' she said. 'It's all really cool. It's not classic musical theater; it's indie rock.'

Roessler explained that the set design is unique too. Metal trusses and two large industrial rolling scaffolding in concert with digitally projected backdrops create a magical tower that is Rapunzel's home. In addition, the band has been placed front and center, a constant on-stage presence throughout the adventure.

Composer Richard E. Moore put out a casting call through Ethos Music Center, the School of Rock and Facebook, then sorted through demo tapes until he found musicians with the right edge.

Selected for the band was Spencer Schillinger, a freshman at Lake Oswego High.

'I've done a few of their (School of Rock) summer camps and I'm on their email list. And they sent out an email to everybody who goes there saying, 'Hey, Northwest Children's Theater really needs people who play every instrument.' I said, 'I play every instrument.' So I went down there and auditioned for guitar, bass and drums and got the bass part.'

This is Schillinger's first professional theater production.

A highlight of his experience was making the CD of the music.

'We got to go into the studio and recorded all of (the music),' he said. A CD will be available at each show, which Roessler said would make it easy for audience members to hear the music again on their way home.

'The audience may be surprised to see this 'Rapunzel,' - it's not what you'd expect,' Roessler said. 'But I am pretty sure they will like it. We have really, really talented singers, actors and musicians.'

'The caliber of actors and the whole show has come together so well. It's a great show. I hope the audience appreciates all the hard work that has gone into it,' Schillinger said.

'Rapunzel Uncut' runs through Feb. 19, with shows Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., and Saturday evening shows at 6 p.m. at the N.W. Neighborhood Cultural Center, 1819 N.W. Everett St. in Portland.

Tickets are $18 to $20 for adults and $15 to $18 for ages 14 and under.

They can be ordered online at nwcts.org or by calling 503-222-4480.




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