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Emperor's New Clothes

Cheri Taylor as Mother, Coby Noctor as Niles and Dylan McCumber as James in "The Emperor's New Clothes,'' which finishes its 20th anniversary run at the Orphan Girl Theatre this weekend. 

CASS WEBER, Courtesy of Spotlight Photography

Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of greed and vanity, "The Emperor’s New Clothes,'' was first performed at the Orphan Girl Theatre in 1998. If you were there you may remember how the story was presented. It was in the traditional Japanese Kabuki style, a creative approach to introduce the actors and audience to a different culture. Now, 20 years later, the play returns in a much different way.

While staying true to the original story, Orphan Girl Children’s Theatre has decided to take a huge gamble this time around by completely changing the script and setting. Rather than recreate the same production as in 1998, Director Jackie Freeman has eliminated the Japanese Kabuki style and embraced the 1920s New York City/East Coast style.

From the opening scene at the underground speakeasy with the traditional style flapper dancers, the audience is transported back into the Roaring Twenties of New York. The incredible costumes, stunning set design and East Coast dialects make the entire performance feel authentic to this time period.

Many of the jokes throughout are intentionally over-the-top cheesy. The story is presented with a fresh flair and energetic vitality by a large cast of talented young actors who are sure to make the audience laugh.

OGCT’s "The Emperor’s New Clothes'' is a never-before-seen comedy written by Freeman and Elizabeth Crase, who approached it as if writing a script for Monty Python. The story is a flat out laugh-fest designed for the OGCT. The incredible cast zips from scene to scene with belly laughs and running gags throughout the performance.

The story remains the same. Through determination and deceit James and Helen, convince the vain and prideful Emperor of Wall Street to wear a new suit of invisible clothes. The two con-artists convince the emperor that the spectacular clothes they have designed can only be seen by the intelligent. The stupid or incompetent will have no clue. Not wanting to seem stupid, the Emperor strips down to his underwear and walks around the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

It’s a new take on the classic story you’ve heard a thousand times. We all need to be reminded that it’s what is inside that counts and not what we wear on the outside. Don’t wait another 20 years to see this magnificent OGCT anniversary show that is entertaining for all ages.

Ashley Rae McGee has been involved with the OGCT for more than 8 years as an actress, stage manager and playwright.


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