Small town Lake Lillian gears up for big time production

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LAKE LILLIAN - After six rewrites, a few different rounds of casting and a multitude of practice, the Lake Lillian community's version of “Snow White” is getting ready to hit the stage.

For the community’s second play in as many years -- “Annie” was the community groups inaugural play -- the Brothers Grimm classic has been transformed into a musical set to premiere Sunday. Those involved say the production is an opportunity to bring together the small city while also giving residents a chance to participate in something they may have never been able to otherwise.

During a Thursday night practice earlier this month, young actors giggled, sometimes too distracted by the others in the room to remember their lines or when to say them. Writer, director and piano player Corinne Hable was forced to corral the short attention spans, keeping them on track.

The pauses decreased, however, as practice went on. Hable, a music major and piano teacher for 50 years, expressed confidence the group will be ready to go by opening night.

“I’m trying to get them to become more animated, to become the characters,” she said. “When they get into costume, they get into character.”

Two local volunteers from Lake Lillian made all of the costumes for last year’s play and quickly offered their services again when they heard about the new production.

The actors range from ages 7 to 22, though the majority are on the younger end of the the spectrum, hence the distracted dwarves and birds.

Hable, postmaster in the town for 17 years, said she started writing the play in November and into the winter months while in Florida. Words and lines were slashed, added, then cut again in order to make the script fit with the size of the cast because everyone who auditioned for the play got a part. Originally, about 12 people tried out, but more trickled in and the cast grew to 18.

“I didn’t want there to be big paragraphs for [the younger cast members] to have to memorize,” she said, adding that they each have about 13 lines. The hardest part, though, has been helping the actors figure out the lines that proceed theirs in order to get the timing right.

Practices started in June and have ramped up as opening day approaches. They practice at an old school in town, now empty after a few businesses, including a winery, tried to take advantage of the space.

Though no other business seems to be able to have made the space work, the members of the play are glad to have lucked upon the space.

A spartan set adorns the stage, only a single room is depicted.

“I think simple sets are the way to go,” Hable said. “People need to use their imagination when they come to the theater.”

But there was nothing either spartan nor simple about last years turnout. Hable said about 250 total people came over two nights. This year, she has advertised the play more and added another night.

And a big turnout could mean a big boost for the town. Proceeds from the play will go toward the town’s 2020 beautifications project, an effort to fix up the town’s main drag.

IF YOU GO

What: “Snow White” … A mini-musical

Where: Second Street East at the former Lake Lillian School

When: 2 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday

Cost: $5

Info: All proceeds will go toward the city revitalization project. Tickets can be bought at the door.