Rehoboth Childrens Theatre: Delighting Children and Grownups for 29 Years

by Dave on August 16, 2010

by Carrie Daniel

I’ve seen a lot of theater in my day, but I must say, I’ve never seen a group of 50+ children become so riveted, so fast, for so long…and by a two-man show!  And with their parents laughing in tow.

The Rehoboth Summer Children’s Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz, which happened last Thursday at the Rehoboth Beach Theatre of the Arts, was definitely a sight to see.  Not only were the children cheering with delight, but the “Grown-Ups” were also thoroughly entertained by actors Steve Seyfried and Lauren Mignogno as they took on all of the characters of this timeless tale in full, comedic form.

“We come every year—we’ve never missed a performance,” says Dale Dodds, a proud mother and grandmother from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who has been attending shows since the company was founded in the early 80s.  “My grandchildren love it,” she says of the witty, engaging productions, “and best of all, the writing is smart.  They know what they are doing—it appeals to adults, too.”

Actor, writer, director and RSCT co-founder Steve Seyfried explains that he seeks to please audience members of all ages and maturity levels; he creates fun for the whole family by writing and performing his characters in a very specific way.

“It’s an incredible challenge, with the writing, to reach a wide audience,” says Seyfried, “to make the dialogue sophisticated enough so that the grownups are entertained…but not so much so that it goes over the children’s heads.”  He goes on to emphasize the importance of developing a direct relationship with his audience during the performances:  “there’s nothing as effective as a good story well told,” he explains of the simple style of communication facilitated by low-tech live theatre, “and in this era of advanced technology, I think that we are providing a valuable service.”

Indeed, Seyfried lights up the stage, reeling in audience members with his diverse characterizations and constant humor.  Alongside his colleague Mignogno, who plays “Dorothy” and the “Narrator,” he takes on the challenge of “Everyone Else”—meaning every single character that Dorothy encounters on her misadventures down the Yellow Brick Road.  We see him as a tobacco-chewing “Uncle Henry,” an ultra-femme “Glinda,” a growling “Wicked Witch,” a loveable “Scarecrow,” an Elvis-impersonating “Tin Man,” a cowardly “Lion,” and, ultimately, as the goofy, duplicitous “Wizard” himself.

Seyfried explains that the Wizard of Oz is the company’s longest running show and was written by himself and his wife/business partner, Elise Seyfried, back in 1980.  The pair opened the show in much the same format, only with Mrs. Seyfried performing opposite her husband in ruby red slippers.

Though currently in pursuit of new, non-theatrical career endeavors, Seyfried will make a surprise “Dorothy” appearance from time to time and still helps out with RSCT’s sister theatre company, Family Stages, back in the couple’s home state of Pennsylvania.

That’s right: the dynamic Seyfried Duo actually founded two theatre companies, both of which have flourished for nearly three decades.  Both companies produce and perform original plays—always in their signature two-actor format—in the Greater Philadelphia area and throughout Sussex County, year-round.  This summer’s Delaware line up includes: Little Goldy and the 3 Riding Bears, Aladdin, Robin Hood, and, of course, The Wizard of Oz.  You can still catch all of these shows at venues in Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, Georgetown, and Delmar through September 2nd.

For further information and a detailed schedule of performances, visit: www.rehobothchildrenstheatre.org, or call: 302-227-6766.

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