The Whitefish Theatre Co. is bringing the magic of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book “The Little Prince” to the stage on Feb. 25-28 and March 4-6.
The young-actors production opens with a sneak preview night Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. Performances continue Feb. 26 and 27 and March 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. Matinée performances are Feb. 28 and March 6 at 4 p.m.
“The Little Prince” is a timeless story of an unlikely friendship between an Aviator who crashes in the Sahara Desert and the innocent yet wise Little Prince who has fallen from the sky. The Little Prince tells the Aviator about his lonely asteroid B-612, the fantastic characters he meets on his adventures through the galaxy, and his strained relationship with a very special flower on his own tiny planet.
“Rose is very special,” said Zion Bilal, 8, who plays the Little Prince. “She’s his best friend.”
“Rose is an attention-seeker,” said Taylor Gray, 12, who plays the part of Rose. “She wants the Prince all to herself.”
The Little Prince’s deceptively simple storytelling fills this imaginative tale with rich and timeless poetic wisdom and magical charm for audiences of all ages. Chicago Plays has said the story “speaks, in breathtaking splendor, to the castaway in all of us: challenging our perspective, opening our eyes and bringing us back to the heart of what truly matters.”
“This is such a beautiful story, about seeing with the heart, past what is apparent,” Director Rebecca Schaffer said in a press release. “To that end, this great cast and I have been working with physical theater techniques to create this world. The ensemble has become the sky, the stars, the desert, the mountains and the kids are operating puppets, masks and engaging in rigorous physical forms throughout the show.
“Lonnie Porro’s costumes are so imaginative and beautiful. The universe truly comes to life with fabric and these one-of-a-kind designs.”
Gray said the costume is one of her favorite parts of the production.
“I really like the costumes,” Gray said. “It makes it easy to get into character.”
The Whitefish Theatre Co. has 23 young actors in the cast from all over the Flathead Valley, plus local actor and Children’s Theatre expert Kim Krueger as the Aviator. The production will also feature live ukulele music provided by Dixie Riddle.
This is Bilal’s first performance with the Whitefish Theatre Co.
“It’s been kind of scary,” Bilal said of being cast as the lead. “But it’s also been really fun. I loved getting to meet all these new people … The people here are awesome!”
Schaffer said she is delighted to reunite with Whitefish Theatre Co. for this show after directing “The King and I” and “Oliver.”
“The O’Shaughnessy is one of the best spaces I’ve worked with in my career and I am glad to be back,” Schaffer said. “I love finding new ways to use the incredibly intimate amphitheater layout.”
Schaffer’s return is also appreciated by the young cast members.
“This has been a really fun experience,” said Lucy Schindler, 13, who plays the Geographer. “I love working with Rebecca. She makes everything so fun. And the set is extraordinary.”
“The Little Prince” was first published in 1943 and gained global recognition for the author and illustrator as the book was embraced by readers of all ages around the world. A year after the book was published, Saint Exupéry disappeared over the Mediterranean while flying a reconnaissance mission for Allied Forces. It is generally assumed that the Aviator is an autobiographical character based on Saint Exupéry’s experiences piloting planes, adding poignancy and relevance for adult readers and audiences of this beloved tale.
The sneak preview on Feb. 25 is $10 for adults and $8 for students. Tickets are available only at the door with general seating. Tickets for other performances are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $8 for students with reserved seating. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office at 1 Central Ave. in Whitefish or by calling 406-862-5371. Box Office Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before a performance. Individual tickets can also be purchased online at www.whitefishtheatreco.org.