Classic awakens with adapted script

By Tom Weber

Jerry Casper has found a surefire way to come up with shows for the annual children’s production at Rochester Community & Technical College: He writes them himself.

"This is the third year in a row I’ve written the children’s show," said Casper, who is director of theater at RCTC.

This year’s show, "Rip Van Winkle," will be presented to classes from area schools and will have public performances April 18-19.


"It challenges me," Casper said of adapting stories for the stage. "I keep saying that next year I’m not going to do it."

But the attraction of tailoring a script specifically for RCTC is difficult to pass up.

"I can write for us," Casper said. "I know my acting talent here, I know what Ben Hain can do for set design."

In this case, Casper went back to the original Washington Irving story of "Rip Van Winkle."

"It was a matter of reading it, then letting it kind of bubble in my head and letting it come out my way," he said.

The result is a play within a play. Casper has written a side plot about an actress who keeps talking to the audience against her director’s wishes.

Other than that, Casper said, "I’m trying to tell the story as closely to the original as I can."

One pleasant by-product of writing the script himself, Casper said, is that he can make it appeal to parents and adults, as well as to children.


"We get everything from pre-school clear up to sixth grade," he said, "and the teachers seem to enjoy it as much as the kids do."

If you go

What: "Rip Van Winkle" children’s play.

When: 7 p.m. April 18, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. April 19

Where: Charles Hill Theatre, Rochester Community & Technical College.

Tickets: $5 general, $3 children younger than 12. No pre-sale; tickets sold only at the door.

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