By Lanny Parks
In 1943, Antoine de Saint Exupery published his novella entitled The Little Prince. It’s length – or lack thereof – and the age of its central character pushed it into the realm of ‘children’s literature’, although the subject matter is certainly more serious than was usually considered age-appropriate for children. Loneliness, love, loss, despair, and death are wrapped in a fable about a downed pilot and a mysterious little boy in the middle of the Sahara desert. It has become one of the most translated books in publishing history, and has been adapted for stage, screen, ballet, opera, television, radio, and recordings. On Friday it opens at The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theater in Chestertown for two weekends only.
This timeless fable is played out in front of a stage set that is every bit as original as the story itself. Bryan Betley, the newly named Theater Manager of the Garfield, has created a stunning backdrop for his mostly youthful cast, emphasizing the story’s narrative that living in reality pales in comparison to life in the world of the imagination.
The cast features Paul Camberdella, no stranger to the Garfield stage, as the pilot, and Alden Swanson, a novice, as the title character. They are each more than capable of carrying their roles; it is Camberdella’s strongest performance to date, and young Miss Swanson shows a real affinity for the stage. Backed up by a cast that includes seven veterans of the summer Playmakers camp, some familiar more adult actors, as well as a few newcomers, the play makes the book come alive as the author intended.
Despite much directorial imploring and harping during rehearsals, young performers sometimes have difficulty remembering to project their voices and slow their speeches, so be advised that your seat should reflect your ability to hear. However, you should certainly put yourself in the audience for The Little Prince.
Performances are February 16-18 and 23-25. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 senior and military, and $10 for students of all ages. To purchase tickets please visit www.garfieldcenter.org or call the box office at 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.