|THE CAST: (l. to r.) Sol Castillo, Moira MacDonald, Emily Yetter, |
Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, Catherine Adell and Jonathan C.K. Willimas
.They portray everything from a hummingbird to a raccoon to a fairy. Six actors are in rehearsals now for South Coast Repertory’s final Theatre for Young Audiences production, an adaptation of Laura Amy Schlitz’s book The Night Fairy. The stage adaptation is by SCR Associate Artistic Director John Glore, who brings the wonderful daylight creatures that Flory the fairy encounters when she is suddenly plunged into the daytime world. But who are the humans behind the characters in the play?
Catherine Adell portrays the Hummingbird. She has worked with puppets for more than a decade, ranging from small (a paper-thin, finger-sized child) to large (a 20-foot swan). She often helps make puppets, including sewing the delicate fabrics (like silk) and then using power tools to help build additional parts of the puppet. She is making her debut here at SCR.
Sol Castillo is the Raccoon. His parents toured California—acting, dancing and singing—so by the age of 10, he knew that he wanted to act. He has worked in film and television, but his heart is close to theatre. Castillo is no stranger to SCR productions; he has been in La Posada Magica, and TYA productions of Sideways Stories from Wayside School and Charlotte’s Web.
Moira MacDonald portrays two characters—the Wren and Spider. She’s a Sitka, Alaska, native and started working in community theatres at a young age. She also made puppets, wrote scripts and performed in many school shows. MacDonald studied acting in New York, and also learned about set building, lighting design and technical work along the way. She studied puppetry at the California Institute of the Arts.
Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper is Skuggle, a squirrel. He has been in other TYA productions at South Coast Repertory, including The Borrowers, Lucky Duck and Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business. Bringing theatre to young audiences is important to him; among past performances are Ferdinand the Bull and Food for Thought. He balances those roles with others, including plays like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Born in New York City, Mongiardo-Cooper studied acting and did plays and musicals there.
Jonathan Williams portrays the Bat. He is a well-seasoned puppeteer, and can be seen as a Triceratops at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, a saber-toothed cat at the Page Museum (La Brea Tar Pits), and at Disney’s California Adventure in Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular! Williams says sometimes he even portrays human characters.
Emily Yetter is Flory. Yetter could be called a ‘natural’ at playing small creatures: she portrayed Tinker Bell in the national touring production of Peter Pan. She studied acting at UCLA, the British Academy of Dramatics Arts and is currently studying dance, contortionism, acrobatics and aerial work. She loves the adventure that each acting role has brought her, including the opportunity scare people when she portrayed 12-year-old Regan, a girl possessed by a demon, in The Geffen Playhouse’s production of The Exorcist.