Never Work with Children or Animals

WSR gleefully thumbs its nose at this show biz adage with "Gypsy"

Ask any actor who has worked with children or animals and they may confirm the wisdom of the W.C Fields adage, “Never work with Children or Animals.” They are unpredictable and completely scene-stealing.

But that hasn’t stopped Williams Street Repertory and director Mark R. Mahallak from casting seven capable young actors and one toy poodle to round out the cast of “GYPSY”, opening Oct 9th at Raue Center for the Arts.

In only its 5th Season, and with a cast of 24 actors (not including the dog), “Gypsy” is the largest show WSR has ever produced. Founding Artistic Director, Richard Kuranda, isn’t intimidated by the size of the show either. “The incredible ensemble is backed by a powerhouse band and we are proud that its the largest show to ever play on the Raue Stage!”

“As a theatre educator, I spend a lot of time with kids in the classroom,” explains Amanda Flahive, who plays Mama Rose, “–so getting the chance to work onstage with them is a joy. Young performers bring tons of energy and excitement to their work, and I love their enthusiasm!” Working with her dog Lucy, however, has had its ups and downs. “I love that she’s making so many new friends and getting to spend so much time with her ‘mama,’ says Flahive, “but she sometimes forgets that the people picking fights with me in the show are just acting and gets a little vocal. She’s a bit of a scene stealer!”

So what do the young performers think about all this? Twelve year-old, Aaron Stone, who plays a newsboy in the show says, “The best part of working with other young actors is getting to know other performers my age and making friends who like performing as much as I do.”  Not that there aren’t challenges. Ten year-old Mya Berg plays the vaudeville sensation, Baby June and admits, “I never twirled a baton before so it was really hard to twirl it and do the splits at the same time.”

Daniel Marable, thirteen, described balancing school, sports, other activities with rehearsals as his biggest challenge.   “The second biggest challenge,” Daniel explains, “is remembering when to give Mark [the director] a Rice Krispies Treat and when not to.  Mark can’t handle having one every rehearsal.  I have handled this by keeping extra Rice Krispies Treats in my bag in case Mark needs one.”

As for WC Fields and his advice, director Mark Mahallak respectfully disagrees. “Maybe he was just having a bad day,” says Mahallak, “I think kids keep you young and dogs give you unconditional love…they keep you focused and on your toes, and as Mama Rose says, ‘My kids are great! Wait until you see ’em!’”

Williams Street Repertory opens “Gypsy” Friday Oct 9th, 2015 at 8pm! The show runs until November 1st at Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake, IL.

Raue Center for the Arts | 26 N. Williams Street, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 |
Box Office | 815.356.9212 | Mon-Sat | 12 to 4p | Closed Sunday except 1 hour prior to performance