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Lessons inside a purple plastic purse

September 29, 2010

The MainStreet Theatre Company is set to open Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. “It’s a young child’s coming of age story about a little girl who’s the center of the universe,” says director Abigail Deser. “She’s having a great life, then a terrible thing happens to her: Her parents give her a baby brother who just ruins her life!” 

Ah, the cataclysmic events that shake our universe and change us from sun to moon. 

Deser, an associate artistic director of the Ojai Plawrights Conference, says, “Lilly wants to find other friends who can give her attention. As she looks for her place in the world, she hurts people’s feelings. Eventually she has to apologize and ask for forgiveness. She does ask, eventually, and winds up with a lot of good friends.” 

Deser pictures Lilly between the ages of six and eight. “I have two kids, 8 and 10, and I think this story will be easily understood by them because there is a strong narrative, a through-line. There’s a real journey here.” 

There’s quite enough for older kids, she believes. “And young kids will enjoy the physical comedy and the colorful set. We approached the set and lighting design to make the magic happen in front of the stage. We created a playground of sorts for the actors to play in. I wanted the kids in the audience to actually see the fun, not just be told that there is fun.” 

Deser finds it’s similar to Charlie Brown’s story in that “there’s a group of characters we come to know and love. It has echoes of that. I think the story of Lilly and what she goes through has a truth in it that parents are moved by. It comes from real life. It’s a great story to talk to your kids about afterward: why did Lilly get so mad? What’s a better way of handling those feelings?” 

The script is based on three books by Kevin Henkes, adapted by Kevin Kling, a Minnesota humorist. “He’s captured a picture book and put it in a script,” says Deser. 

A picture book, naturally, is full of pictures. Therefore, kids and parents who know the books are full of expectations. “This is the first children’s play I’ve directed,” says Deser. The key challenge for her, she says, is the staging. “We’re talking 50 events and 50 scenes and 16 characters in the space of an hour! It’s nonstop with quick transitions from one scene to another and from one incredible Technicolor dream to a deeply felt moment in just a few seconds.” 

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse runs an hour and ten minutes at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga. It runs October 2-17, Saturdays 1:00 & 4:00 pm and Sundays 1:00 p.m. Box office 909-477-2752. 

Features Robin Becker, Reggie De Leon, Emily Eiden, Max Grodenchik, Max Lawrence, Amanda Pajer. Scenic Design, Dwight Richard Odle; Costumes, Tina Haatainen-Jones; Lighting, Tom Ontiveros; Sound Design & Original Music, Michael Hooker.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kristi permalink
    September 29, 2010 9:18 am

    Love Kevin Henkes. Brilliant idea for a play. Maybe Chrysanthemum will be next.

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