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Actors in ANTIC's 'Tom Sawyer' joined by a half dozen canines

by April Helms | Special Products Editor Published: August 12, 2016 12:00 AM
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ANTIC has gone to the dogs.

No, I'm not saying the theater is bad, quite the contrary. Indeed, the theater's latest show, "Tom Sawyer," is a charming production and a nice adaptation of one of my favorite childhood books.

But the human cast is joined by six furry, four-footed actors in certain scenes: frolicking with the town children, or guarding the jail house. Three dogs will appear per show.

"Tom Sawyer," adapted by Tim Kelly, opened Aug. 5, and can be seen Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Aug. 20.

The three dogs featured opening night were Romeo, Oliver and Benjamin.

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Romeo's human Heather Pazak of Cuyahoga Falls said this was "Romeo's very first time on stage."

"It's been a great experience," Pazak said.

Cindy Bates, Benjamin's human, said the five-month-old puppy "was right on spot."

As well as Romeo, Oliver and Benjamin, the canine cast includes Brody, Kate, and Director Mary Kay Dente's own dog, Tuxie.

Dente said that she has used dogs, including Tuxie, in her shows before.

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"We've never had this many," but the show made it easy to work in the dogs, Dente said. "You have kids playing, so why not play with dogs? Also, we use them for the jailhouse scene."

While this was a debut for Benjamin, Oliver and Romeo, Tuxie, Kate and Brody have appeared in past ANTIC shows, according to information provided by the theater.

The play itself is an adaptation of author Mark Twain's novel by the same name. The story centers on Tom Sawyer (here played by Paul Appleby), a boy whose spirit for adventure often lands him into trouble, and exasperates his guardian and aunt Polly (Karen Sauerbrey). The play covers the highlights the best-known scenes from the book, such as the whitewashing scene and his mixed attempts at courtship with Becky Thatcher (Shannon Hogan). Much of the action focuses on a criminal plot of Injun Joe (Mark Brown), Muff Potter (Dale Brigger) and Doc Robinson (Jamie VanHorn) that goes wrong. Tom and his close friend Huck Finn (Ellie Polyak) witness what transpires and face the dilemna of whether to tell what they have seen. Things come to a head when Tom, Huck and another friend Josie Harper (Piper Kolasky) sneak off to an island one evening to play at being pirates, only to discover by the next day that the town thinks they are dead.

Dente said that ANTIC did a different version of "Tom Sawyer" 21 years ago.

"It was four acts," she said. "We did not do this one this time. This has a lot more laughter, more comedy. It's more about the community."

Tickets are sold at the door.

ANTIC stages its shows in the Newell Theatre at the Quirk Cultural Center, 1201 Grant Ave. in Cuyahoga Falls. For details, email Anticdirector@aol.com.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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