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On-stage review

Unique perspectives in 'The Apple Tree' sure to keep audiences laughing

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Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News
   Captain Sanjar (Milagra Castilleja) and Princess Barbara (Josie Harrington) dream of being together in "The Lady or the Tiger," the second act in Grandview High School's production of "The Apple Tree."

Three plays in one...that's what the audience gets when viewing Grandview High School Drama Club's rendition of "The Apple Tree."

The presentation provides three perspectives on male and female relationships, beginning with the first act, "The Diaries of Adam and Eve."

Whether one is familiar with the Biblical account of the first man and woman or not, the dramatization of these two classic characters is witty and sure to draw laughter at every nuance and idiom woven into the act.

Eve, portrayed by Marlee Andrews, is the stereotypical female. She sees the world in finite details, giving everything specific names and wishing to enhance her surroundings with color. She is endearing, yet the things that make women see the world the way they do are often annoying to Adam (Milagro Castilleja).

He is the stereotypical male, wanting all of life to be simple. In naming the creatures "flyers," "swimmers," "crawlers" and "growlers," nothing in his world is overcomplicated.

Castilleja, a freshman at GHS, shines in this role. His portrayal of Adam is nothing but pure hidden talent that audiences can look forward to in the coming years.

The interaction between the two characters is filled with humor. "I have to go milk the four-pronged white squirter," says Adam. "You mean the cow?" asks Eve.

A roll of the eyes here, an exasperated sigh there...the timing is brilliant.

The snake enters and Jason Babcock gives a withering portrayal of creator of original sin. He is creepy and alluring at the same time. He takes the role to an unimaginable level.

The singing in the first act, too, is absolutely fabulous. Some songs are on the lighter side, others more mesmerizing...all of it is wonderful, to say the least.

The second act is "The Lady or the Tiger," set in a barbaric kingdom in which those answering for their crimes are subjected to a unique justice system.

Jenalee Mariotti opens the act as the Balladeer, singing her way through the story.

This young lady truly has great vocal talent, but it did not come through the night I attended the production. I have heard her sing before and I must say, she was slightly off-key. It may have been nerves. I don't know, but I wish I could have heard her melodic voice on a night where she was singing to her true ability.

Mariotti did a good job of animating her facial expressions and emphasizing the finer points of the act. She was fun to watch.

The story surrounds King Aarik, Steven Mahre, and his daughter Barbara portrayed by Josie Harrington.

Barbara has fallen in love with Captain Sanjar (Milagro Castilleja), who is a member of the king's military and not a preferable suitor for the king's daughter.

When the two are caught, Sanjar must choose his fate. The king's system of delivering justice is in making those who have broken the law choose between two doors. One door hides a lady and the other a tiger. If Sanjar chooses the door with the tiger, he will surely die. If he selects the door hiding the lady, he must marry her immediately.

Barbara is faced with a difficult decision. She feels she must gain the knowledge of which door hides which fate, especially knowing her servant Nadjira (Briana Biggs) is the lady Sanjar would marry if he selects the one door.

The cast in this act is much larger, including singing maidens and soldiers, including Kaylee Greene, Sonia Orozco, Danielle Charvet, Josie Mahre, Alicia Brito, Tolan Barrett, Rudy Gomez, Adam Fleming, Brendon Lynch and Chavez Espinoza. A prisoner (Lynch) illustrates the justice system in the beginning. He marries Brito when he selects the door hiding the lady.

All the maidens and soldiers must witness Sanjar's final fate.

Finally, the closing act..."Passionella."

A completely different take on Cinderella, this play focuses on Ella (Marlee Andrews) who is a chimney sweep dreaming of one day becoming a movie star.

As Ella, she is charming and awkward. She suffers from a poor chain of events in life and is suddenly granted her wish.

She transforms into Passionella, the oft-sought after movie star, but soon finds the life she leads isn't very fulfilling.

Andrews once again keeps audiences entertained with her singing talents and the cute and quirky way in which she portrays Ella. As Passionella, her dream guy Flip (Chavez Espinoza) puts it best, "You're not real."

Tolan Barrett is the narrator and fairy godperson. It's funny to see this guy in an orange tutu.

Castilleja portrays Mr. Fallible, Ella's boss; the producer of Ella's films is portrayed by Arthur Alcazar (Castilleja took on this role the night I attended); the director is played by Kaylee Greene, Lynch is cast as a newsboy; and several cast members portray singing patrons, movie crew members and followers of Passionella and Flip.

Grandview High School teacher Melanie Manship directed the three play production with the assistance of Leslie White. Brian Vessey directed the music and Grandview High School senior Amanda McLean was in charge of the choreography.

Three cheers to them all.

"The Apple Tree" will be staged again this coming Friday and Saturday, April 30 and May 1, at 7 p.m. The production takes place at Grandview Middle School and admission is $6 for adults and $3 for students.

Those who have seen it are sure to want to see it again. Those who haven't had the pleasure of enjoying this bit of comic relief...don't miss it.

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