Roald Dahl’s classic “Fantastic Mr. Fox” has cleverly crept its way onto the stage of The Merc Playhouse in Twisp. Opening on March 20 and continuing through March 29, the play follows the adventures of Mr. Fox as he works to outwit three dimwitted farmers, along with the help of a cadre of woodland creatures.
“It has appeal — animal characters, human characters, humor, and a bit of a message,” said director Jane Orme.
Orme, who has directed numerous plays at The Merc (where she is a board member) and at Liberty Bell High School, chose “Fantastic Mr. Fox” for The Merc’s yearly children’s theater production.
“[Roald Dahl] books appeal to children and adults,” continued Orme. “I enjoy reading steries with twists … we’re rooting for the animals, who steal from the farmers, that’s a twist. Mr. Fox reasons if they just steal a little, enough to feed themselves, maybe they can all live together in peace. I’m not sure the farmers would agree.”
The production is a presentation of The Merc’s Tom Zbyszewski Children’s Theater, which puts on a children’s play once a year. It also means that the 23 actors are children, ages of 8 – 14.
“No matter what age, you have to believe in what you’re doing,” said Orme about directing young actors versus the usual adult ensemble. The young players have been hard at work, having started rehearsal in January. “There are a few who have been in a number of past Merc productions. There are some who are on stage for the first time,” said Orme.
While the play takes center stage at The Merc, much of the action takes place below ground, in tunnels and beneath trees, since, after all, the main characters are foxes. The production team dug deep to create sets, costumes and even 3-D printed props to create the fantastic feel of the story. “There is much to look at … It’s not unusual to ask, ‘How’d they do that?’ when seeing a set designed by this incredible team,” said Orme. “It is definitely a community theater where collaboration is the all-important factor.”
“There is a lot of music and dance. The dances are all original and choreographed by [Merc Executive Director] Missi Smith. The costumes and props are incredible, as is the stage design. It is all fantastic,” Orme said.
Show times are 7 p.m. on March 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28, and 2 p.m. for matinees on March 22 and 29. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets for adults are $18 for online general admission, $20 for online reserved seats, and $20 at the door. Tickets for youth are $7 online reserved, or $5 at the door. March 26 admission is by donation. Purchase tickets online at www.mercplayhouse.org. For information, call 997‑7529.