WCU Theatre to present children's classic, 'The Little Prince'

Senior theatre major Samantha Burkett of Hattiesburg experiments with a lighting effect for William Carey University Theatre production of “The Little Prince.” She is the lighting designer for the children's show, which opens Dec. 9.

William Carey University Theatre will present children’s classic “The Little Prince,” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Dec. 9-11 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 11-12 at 2 p.m. at Joe & Virginia Tatum Theatre in Hattiesburg.

The production is part of WCU’s Theatre for Young Audiences program. The script was adapted from the original French by Tim Matheny, chair of the Theatre and Communications Department, and his daughter, senior theatre major Caroline Matheny.

“We ask our students to suggest the shows we consider for our academic season, and this was a particular favorite. Caroline had studied French and since this was one of her favorite children’s books, collaborating with her on the adaptation seemed obvious and has been a real joy,” said Tim Matheny, who also directed the show.

Caroline Matheny said she’s worked with her father on other plays — but this project was special.

“The novella is often shortened, or beloved characters are removed. While we have grounded the story within an additional story, we wanted our adaptation to hold true to the original story as much as possible. I think fans of the book will appreciate our efforts, especially when it comes to often-omitted minor characters who may only appear on stage for a minute, but really make the story special,” Caroline Matheny said.

“The Little Prince,” tells the story of a young prince who explores the galaxy, visiting planets and meeting strange new people. It focuses on love, loss, aging, and home.

“Our adaptation is set in the larger story of a family who is having to move a grandpa into an assisted living home due to dementia symptoms. He and his grandson bond on moving day by retelling the story of the grandpa’s encounter with the little prince,” Tim Matheny said.

“We wanted children to see that if they are dealing with a similar situation in their own lives, they are not alone. Love lives in the heart, not the head, so it can never really be forgotten. The Little Prince learns this lesson as he discovers the most important things in life are invisible.”

The cast is made up of Corinne Fraley of Roslyn, Pennsylvania.; Elissa Colombo of Chester, New Hampshire.; Billy Burkes of Hattiesburg; Shelby Sheffield of Picayune; and Joshua Luther of Memphis, Tennessee. Actors play multiple roles, including a King, a Serious Businessman, a Beautiful Rose, a Geographer, and a Lamplighter.

            The box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and one hour before each performance. Call (601) 318-6221 for reservations beginning Dec. 6. Tickets are $5.

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