In recent years, collaboration among troupes has become a welcome hallmark of central Ohio theater. Columbus Children’s Theatre extends the trend with its regional premiere of John Kaasik’s Healers in the Forest, a collaboration with the BalletMet Dance Academy.
In recent years, collaboration among troupes has become a welcome hallmark of central Ohio theater.
Columbus Children’s Theatre extends the trend with its regional premiere of John Kaasik’s Healers in the Forest, a collaboration with the BalletMet Dance Academy.
The one-act Healers integrates classical music and dance into an original story. Of 19 cast members, 11 are students at the academy.
One who isn’t plays the hero, Thomas (Isaac Barnes), growing up in Connecticut in the late 19th century. When the play opens, he is seriously ill, with a malady that a kindly doctor (Luther Center) can neither identify nor cure.
In his fever, he is visited by mysterious young sprite Salinia (Ruthie Cameron), who hopes she and her friends can cure him by dancing. When they fail to do so, she concocts a plan to take him to her forest world. There, dancing Healers can work their magic but only when they aren’t undermined by misguided ruler Galowga (James Harper).
Thomas’ cure comes at a price, and, when he learns what it is, he must return to the forest to do what he can to set things right.
Barnes, nicely grounded as Thomas, is astonished at what he sees but able to deal with whatever life throws at him.
Cameron is sweetly assured as compassionate Salinia, and Harper is just scary enough as a villain capable of redemption. Allyson Fries is ethereal as the silent Truth Fairy, whose wand makes anyone it touches tell the truth, and Isabella Lomeo provides comic relief as Salinia’s most down-to-earth friend.
The play is busy, with frequent jumps between the bedroom where Thomas is fighting for his life and the world of Fairyland, where the ruler’s guardians practice fighting, healers dance en pointe and younger fairies conceive plans to bridge the two worlds.
Director William Goldsmith finds order in the potential chaos, alternating delicate dance numbers with scenes of child-pleasing humor.
He and choreographer Dionysia Williams, whose work combines grace and wit, create a production that successfully breaks the boundaries between theater and ballet.