Herald/Andrew D. Brosig - Part of the cast of the Vive Les Arts’ Children’s Theater Workshop rehearse a scene from Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories” on Wednesday at the theater. Cast members include, seated from left, Ali Balk, Kaylyn Niemiec, Abbie Morrisey, Karis McMurry and Madeline Krustchinsky. Standing, from left, Makenzy Moore, Raquel Hubert, Jennae Young, Dequan Ryan and Makaila Jones. -

By Andrew D. Brosig

Killeen Daily Herald

Hayley Dugger and Abbie Morrisey are both veterans of the Vive Les Arts stage, but they're stepping in to new roles for the summer Children's Theater Workshop production of "The Just So Stories," an adaptation of the popular tales from the pen of British poet and author Rudyard Kipling.

Dugger, with a resume listing both on- and off-stage roles in the local community theater troupe, is making her directorial debut with the workshop this year. Morrisey has been in a few plays at Vive Les Arts over the past year, she said. But the 11-year-old will make a debut of her own, in the lead role of Kipling's daughter, Elsie, for the workshop production.

"The Just So Stories" is told from Elsie's perspective, Dugger said. The production features five of Kipling's collection of 12 stories for children. The featured tales are: "How the Camel Got His Hump," "How the Kangaroo Got His Hop," "How the Armadillo Came to Be," "The Elephant Child," and "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin."

The premise of the play finds Elsie living with her Aunt Georgie. She shares the tales penned by her father with friends from her own imagination.

"She makes up these imaginary friends, because she has no one to play with," Morrisey said. "They become so real to her. In the end, she doesn't realize they're imaginary."

The production features the additional aspects of a musical to augment the spoken words, Dugger said. "The Just So Stories" should capture the interest of children and their parents, she said.

"We wanted to make sure the stories appeal to all ages," Dugger said. "These stories are interesting. I like to think they'll bring you back to your childhood."

Dugger and Morrisey both said, prior to taking on their respective roles in "Stories," they weren't familiar with Kipling's work.

"A year ago, I don't know if I could have told you who Kipling was," Dugger said. "But these are all familiar stories, stories we all grew up on."

"And it's a fun story, now that we've learned it," Morrisey said.

To paraphrase the Bard, the play is the thing, but it's not the only thing in the Children's Theater Workshop at Vive Les Arts, Dugger said. There's an education component in the intensive workshop environment, she said.

The 30 cast members spend three hours each day for the three-week production schedule in rehearsals, Dugger said. Beyond putting the play on stage, though, they're also trying to instill a love of the stage and performance in the youthful participants.

"We've tried very hard to teach about the theater," Dugger said. "We've made it a to-learn-about-the-theater workshop, along with the production."

Production of "The Just So Stories" is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 13 and 14 and 2 p.m. Aug. 15 at Vive Les Arts Theatre, 3401 S. W.S. Young Drive, in Killeen. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children, and are available from the Vive Les Arts box office, (254) 562-9090.

"This is very kid friendly, but the concept is a show that will appeal to everyone," Dugger said. "When adults bring their kids, they're not going to be bored with it. The general message of the stories appeals to adults, as well as to children."

Contact Andrew D. Brosig at (254) 501-7469 or abrosig@kdhnews.com.

If you go

What: "The Just So Stories"

Where: Vive Les Arts Theatre, 3401 S. W.S. Young Drive, Killeen

When: Aug. 13 to 15; 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

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