#8216;Pooh#039; provides a sunny, funny time for audiences

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2007

Greenville High's Old Gym Players proved real troupers last weekend as they donned their very furry (and warm) animal costumes to present not one, not two, but four performances of the musical &#8220Winnie-The-Pooh” for audiences young and young-at-heart.

Director Wendy Smith, drama teacher at the school, chose the classic children's story as a treat the entire community could enjoy.

&#8220At first the kids thought I was crazy when I suggested doing this play. Then they read it and changed their minds,” Smith said.

&#8220They have really enjoyed this experience.”

Tyler Ray, playing the good-hearted bear with a serious weakness for honey (and marmalade), put in the most stage time, singing, dancing and hamming it up for his audience.

&#8220It's been fun. I don't get much time in front of the fans cooling us off back stage, but it's worth it,” Ray said with a shrug and a smile.

Ray was joined on stage by key players Brittany Bird (&#8220Rabbit”), Carrie Victoria (&#8220Piglet”), Daniel Coppage (&#8220Eeyore”), William Bates (&#8220Owl”), Monica Kelley (&#8220Kanga”) and Meghan Branum (&#8220Roo”).

Christopher Robin, the owner of the beloved teddy bear, was played by Clay Branum. Kris Ferguson, who also served as assistant student director, served as the Narrator, setting the stage for the beloved bear's adventures.

Pooh and his forest friends hear there is a terrifying new creature among them - the dreaded Kanga, known for her excessive enthusiasm for giving baths (the horror!) and shoveling tablespoons of a suspect liquid in a brown bottle down one's throat whenever she gets the chance.

Kanga's child, Roo, is desperate to find herself a playmate her size in their new home, and soon discovers Piglet - just the right size and a prime candidate for a good scrubbing to boot.

 Kanga whisks Piglet away for a thorough cleaning and makeover.  A rebellious Roo decides to run away from her over-regimented life with Roo and join Poo and Rabbit in Rabbit's hutch, where she can stuff herself to her heart's content on jellybeans, licorice and other treats.

How will they convince Roo to return home? And how will they get their buddy Piglet back? And will Pooh overcome his addiction to honey?

All ends well, and the musical ends with a song celebrating Pooh's birthday.  Christopher Robin brings in a Radio Flyer wagon carrying a cake glowing with candles for Pooh to blow out, as all the woodland creatures gather to enjoy the festive occasion.

Also appearing in the production as forest animals were Susan Nimmer as &#8220Carrot,” Lora Love as &#8220Daffodil,” Amber Newton as &#8220Cottonball,” Summer Skipper as &#8220Bucky” and Rian Roman as &#8220Snuffles.”

Colorful, imaginative sets creating a forest and Rabbit's home were built and painted by GHS instructors Mandis Hill and Stacey Edwards and their students.

This was the first musical production for Smith and her students, who were assisted by choral director Millie McDonald and Byrd as the student choral director. 

GHS students Olivia Glenn and Courtney Rice provided the choreography, while Tabitha Newton and Chris Pryor performed the sound effects and Tanner Poole and Tyler Niehaus worked the lighting and sound.

&#8220I am not a musically gifted person, but I decided to take the plunge this year. The kids worked hard on the seven songs and the dances, and I am very pleased with how well they have done,” Smith said.

The students presented the show last Friday to students from Bright Beginnings, Fort Dale Academy and Greenville Elementary, performed shows for the general public Friday and Saturday nights, and a Sunday matinee. They were slated to perform for students from W. O. Parmer Elementary School Monday morning.

&#8220I was afraid they would burn out, doing this many performances, but they haven't. They were just as enthusiastic today as the first day,” Smith said proudly on Sunday afternoon following the performance.

&#8220This is their favorite part of it all,” the director added, as she motioned toward the costumed students, who came off the stage to meet their young fans and pose for photos.

&#8220The kids did a great job,” said audience member Susan Andrews, a teacher at McKenzie


&#8220I am so happy the Parmer students will get to see this, too. I know my grandson will enjoy it.”