Sea­son-Open­ing Per­for­mance On Stage At Hut­ton’s Ham­let

Riverbank News - - NEWS - By MARG JACK­SON

Twenty years ago, Richard and An­nette Hut­ton first thought about putting on a youth the­ater pro­duc­tion. Lit­tle did they know then that it would still be go­ing strong two decades later.

Giv­ing hun­dreds of kids from Oak­dale, River­bank, Escalon and be­yond the op­por­tu­nity to try their hand at the­ater, the sum­mer se­ries this year at Hut­ton’s Ham­let in Oak­dale will kick off with the first per­for­mance on Fri­day and Satur­day, June 8 and 9. Par­tic­i­pants spend two weeks work­ing on each play, go­ing through in­ten­sive train­ing and get­ting ready to put on a fullscale pro­duc­tion.

This sum­mer, five sep­a­rate plays will be of­fered through Hut­ton’s Ham­let Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, a con­verted church the cou­ple bought specif­i­cally with the­ater in mind.

The cen­ter at 132 W. G St., Oak­dale, seats about 80 peo­ple. Tick­ets to the per­for­mances are $10 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and un­der, and can be pur­chased at Hut­ton’s Ham­let Mu­sic Store, 149 Church Ave., Oak­dale, just around the cor­ner from the Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter. The Snow White Mu­s­i­ca­palooza! is the first pro­duc­tion; show­times are Fri­day, June 8 at 7 p.m. and Satur­day, June 9 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The show is billed as a “mu­si­cal ex­trav­a­ganza with some­thing for ev­ery­one.” The au­di­ence be­comes the live stu­dio au­di­ence on a talk show, Real Talk with Fairy­tale Le­gends, where the seven dwarves tell the story of Snow White, and the Fairy­tale Play­ers bring it to life.

Long­time di­rec­tor and ac­com­pa­nist An­nette Hut­ton said there are be­tween 25 to 35 peo­ple in each cast; age of par­tic­i­pants ranges from 7 to 20-years-old and there are no auditions.

Those tak­ing part in the sum­mer work­shops pay a $200 fee and are then en­meshed in the world of the­ater for their two-week ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We have done as many as seven and we’ve done as few as one,” An­nette said of putting on the sum­mer pro­duc­tions.

When they first got started with the work­shops, stu­dents did it all, from build­ing the sets to find­ing their own cos­tumes, even procur­ing props. Over the years, though, the sum­mer se­ries has added some pro­fes­sion­als for light­ing, sound ef­fects and more, al­low­ing the stu­dents to fo­cus more on the pro­duc­tion it­self.

“Per­for­mance val­ues have in­creased a lot,” An­nette said.

Richard was busy over the last sev­eral months with on site im­prove­ments and the cen­ter was re­painted, fresh­en­ing it up prior to the new sea­son.

Most of the shows are roughly two-hour pro­duc­tions, with 45 min­utes to an hour for each half, as well as a brief in­ter­mis­sion.

Re­hearsals for the first sum­mer pro­duc­tion got started the day af­ter Me­mo­rial Day.

Also on the sum­mer sched­ule are: Pride and Prej­u­dice, a comic adap­ta­tion of the Jane Austen novel, Fri­day, June 22 and Satur­day, June 23; Rockin’ Robin Hood, on Fri­day, July 6 and Satur­day, July 7; The Hound of the Baskervilles with a twist in the plot hav­ing the nieces of Holmes and Dr. Wat­son solve a mur­der while their un­cles are on va­ca­tion, Fri­day, July 20 and Satur­day, July 21; and the sea­son fi­nale is a mu­si­cal, Lucky Lucky Hud­son, fea­tur­ing a teenage writer of a de­tec­tive novel get­ting trapped in his own story, set for Fri­day, Aug. 3 and Satur­day, Aug. 4.

“It’s pretty in­tense but very fun,” An­nette said of the sum­mer se­ries.

“I’m a per­son with a short at­ten­tion span so two weeks works well for me.”

Each sum­mer the­ater work­shop runs 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day for two weeks, fin­ish­ing with the three per­for­mances.

MARG JACK­SON/THE NEWS

The hus­band-wife team of Richard and An­nette Hut­ton are still run­ning Hut­ton’s Ham­let Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, go­ing strong for 20 years. An­nette serves as ac­com­pa­nist for the se­ries of sum­mer pro­duc­tions.

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