Rose and the Rime is a play that casts a shadow into the 1960s, a time when the Cold War chilled the nation, as civil rights and opposing generations fought in an arena of cultural and political differences. Meanwhile, in the fictional Michigan town of Radio Falls, residents struggle against the mystical spell that has frozen the world around them.
The fall production will debut in Byrum Hall, on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. The show is recommended for an audience of children and adults, ages 10 and older.
Directing the play is Kenneth “Kenny” Shepard, an adjunct professor for theatre and dance at AU, Ball State University and Butler University.
According to the director, Rose and the Rime “is a very dark and sometimes haunting fairy tale.”
Rose, the protagonist, runs away from her hometown Radio Falls to find a magic coin that would lift the spell cursing her town.
Throughout the play, “She faces a snowstorm, hungry wolves, a runaway sled ride and, ultimately, the Rime Witch on her journey,” said Shepard. “She also ages from little girl, to teenager, to a young woman, wife and mother.”
AU student Anna Harkrider has been cast as Rose in the production.
“Rose is successful in getting the coin, but this is only the beginning of her narrative,” Shepard said. “The happiness of the town hinges on what she chooses to do next.”
For the audience to wonder, he asked, “Who does the coin belong to, and how will Rose share her newfound power?”
Shepard encouraged people to come see the play because “it tells a story we need to see and hear.”
According to Shepard, the playwrights wanted the play to specifically be set in the 1960s because it “was a volatile time in our country’s history.”
While the nation faces the cultural and political challenges like those of the 1960s, Radio Falls and the townspeople have to struggle for their happiness and prosperity through vengeance and violence, according to Shepard.
“History can and does repeat itself, and I’m appreciative that the playwrights highlight this in a bold way,” said Shepard, implying that the play could remind the audience of the struggles America once faced to achieve racial and political equality.
The AU musical theatre department at the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, which is directed by David Coolidge, “is becoming well-known and very respected as a place where Christian artists can get an education that will make them competitive and employable,” said Shepard.
Coolidge leads the department by recruiting students to perform at the school and selects “plays and musicals that both challenge audiences with social issues and also give students opportunities to perform in the kinds of shows that are currently being produced professionally.”
Shepard appreciates the progress that the cast and crew has made in preparing the fall play; he said it has been “powerful” to witness them cultivate a production that could professionally challenge the performers for their education.
“It’s been incredible to see this cast and creative team come together to tell the same story at the same time,” he said.
“The show’s creators encourage adding music, creative staging and choreography, and the cast, crew and designers have been beyond supportive in allowing me to think outside the box as we tell Rose’s story in an imaginative way.”
The production also features a guest performer, Andrew Persinger, who plays Rose’s uncle Roger.
“I’m also extremely happy we were able to get a guest artist in the production,” said Shepard. “Persigner is well-known in Anderson.”
According to the director, Persinger is an excellent cast member, actor and guest performer who plays his role perfectly.
Shepard said that Harkrider, the student actor performing Rose, “approached her role with an enthusiasm and an openness, which isn’t easy. Her character takes a dangerous journey, grows up, falls in love, has a baby and battles a witch, all within an hour and ten minutes.”
AU students receive free admission to the play. Tickets can be purchased from the Byrum Box Office at rates of $12 for adults; $10 for military veterans and seniors (ages 60 or older); and $5 for children and students.
Rose and the Rime will also be featured on Friday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 8, 2:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 9, 2:30 p.m.