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Spokane Catholic youth kick up their heels for summer theater production
by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register
(From the Aug. 1, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
Father Tom Connolly gives his actors a quick pep talk to kick off rehearsal for the musical Babes in Arms. The parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish in Spokane is leading a group of some 25 young people in a production that will be presented at Gonzaga University’s Russell Theatre later this month. (IR photo)
A group of some 25 young people, age 6 through senior year of high school, are definitely unable to say they’re bored this summer.
Father Tom Connolly, parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish in Spokane, has formed a young people’s theater company. Under his direction, the group will be presenting the musical Babes in Arms later this month at Gonzaga University’s Russell Theatre.
The idea of a summer theater company for young people “is an idea that’s been in the back of my mind for a long time,” said Father Connolly during a rehearsal break at St. Aloysius School last month.
Before beginning his seminary studies, Father Connolly worked providing entertainment for U.S. armed forces. Though he hasn’t directed any major shows lately, he’s kept his hand in, working with students at St. Mary School during the course of the year to put on some educational entertainment for fellow students and family.
The theater group has several items of focus. Perhaps most of all, the work, the rehearsal, and the talent will be devoted to a project that is simply wholesome, a show families “could watch and participate in, and not be offended,” he said.
Babes in Arms, written by Rogers and Hart, dates back to the 1930s, though the show has seen a number of revivals over the years. It was also produced as a vehicle for Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, though the film doesn’t have much to do with the theatrical version of the show.
Father Connolly described the play as “just a good, old-fashioned musical with good music.” As was the pattern in those days, the songs and dance don’t necessarily advance the plot. “They just kind of crop up,” he said.
Eleven parishes from the Spokane area are represented by cast and crew, said Father Connolly. Some whole families have committed to the project as well.
Although the play has seen revivals over the years, most people still aren’t familiar with it, at least in its theatrical form. Another advantage to the play is that “it’s youth oriented,” he said. Even so, he promises, “anyone who sees it will enjoy it.”
(Babes in Arms opens Wednesday, Aug. 21, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 25. Show times are at 7 p.m. Aug. 21-24; Sunday, Aug. 25, is a 2 p.m. matinee. For information about tickets, call the St. Mary Parish office: 928-3210.)
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