CTC returns to stage with ‘Wicked Queen’

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Children’s Theatre Company is returning to the stage for the first time in two years with “The Wicked Queen,” which is based on the Brothers Grimm’s 1812 German fairy tale about Snow White.

Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Westlake High School Theatre, 1000 Garden Drive.

Kerry Onxley, Children’s Theatre Company artistic director, said “The Wicked Queen” kicks off the company’s 2021-2022 season. The company last performed onstage in February 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic caused performances to shut down one month later. The Central School Arts and Humanities Center, which hosts children’s theatre performances, remains closed for repairs since Hurricane Laura’s August 2020 landfall.

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While Onxley’s students have continued to rehearse and attend classes since Hurricanes Laura and Delta, not being able to perform has been challenging.

“It’s like students that practice football, knowing the result is getting to play in the game,” he said. “We’ve been rehearsing with no end product. Obviously, we’re very excited to be onstage again.”

Onxley said acting classes have been held in various locations since Hurricane Laura.

“Basically, we have been gypsy-theatering it,” he said.

All the prep work for “The Wicked Queen” was done at a remote site, Onxley said.

He said Westlake High School students in the technical theater department helped with lighting, as well as building, painting and designing sets.

“It just kind of happened,” Onxley said. “I look at this collaboration between the children’s theatre and the high school students as the silver lining from the hurricanes and the pandemic.”

Onxley has also taught theater at Westlake High School for 35 years. The school held a show last November, its first since the COVID-19 pandemic. A production of “The Great Gatsby” is scheduled for April.

“We’re juggling everything around everyone,” he said. “Once this (Wicked Queen) set goes down, we will rebuild for “The Great Gatsby.”

Onxley said “The Wicked Queen” differs from the typical script because the focus isn’t entirely on Snow White.

“It still follows the same storyline, but the Magic Mirror plays a larger role,” he said. “There is a stronger relationship between the mirror and the Wicked Queen. It’s more from the queen’s point of view, but Snow White and the seven dwarfs are still there.”

The cast includes: Aubrie Didelot as Snow White, Tamirica Mitchell as the Wicked Queen, Lauryn Clark as the Magic Mirror, Isaac Hite as Victor, Brian Simien as Hugo, McKenzi Hazel as Doc, Bryan Leger as Sleepy, Sophia Trahan as Grumpy, Lauryn Clark as Happy, Isaac Hite as Bashful, Shannon Wheat as Dopey and Ella Noeske as Sneezy.

Onxley said he is excited to bring the production to Westlake, an area that doesn’t have as many theater performances as Lake Charles.

“To bring this across the bridge is another silver lining,” he said. “We’re trying to get back to regular life and get audiences retrained to get back into theater.”

With more than three decades of experience teaching theater and having navigated multiple natural disasters, Onxley said he continues to push for exposing students to art and theater education.

“I think it should be in every child’s landscape,” he said. “When I decide to walk away from the stage, I am sure it will be left in great hands. We have great performing groups that 15 years ago didn’t exist.”

Tickets for the “The Wicked Queen” are $15 per person for general seating. To purchase tickets, visit www.childrenstheatre.cc.