Falsettos and “Furry Tales”

hree men frolicked on the small stage giggling, singing and dancing. Dressed in 16th century women’s dresses their long sleeves flowed while their tenor and baritone voices sounded unnaturally high and squeaky. They descended upon the all female society that hid Princess Ida, one of the men’s betrothed.

“Princess Ida,” performed at the Z.J. Loussac Public Library, was this summer’s touring operetta presented by members of The Character Workshop, an Anchorage based performing arts company.

Each summer the wokshop operetta tours libraries around town introducing young people to the styles and sounds of Gilbert & Sullivan.

“Performing “Princess Ida” was (a) hoot to do,” said Jack Klauschie, artistic director of TCW.

“It’s just plain funny, plus I know all the players,” said Jeff Dahlstrom, audience member and University of Alaska Anchorage music education major.

The 10 year-old company contains about 30 resident performers, several of them former or current UAA students, Klauschie said.

“Most of the current UAA students actually joined us as high school students and have stayed with the company over the years,” Klauschie said.

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Klauschie arrived in Alaska from southern California on advice from friends. He fell in love with Anchorage and after meeting a group of people he thought should do theater together he founded TCW.

“It has constantly evolved from there,” Klauschie said.

The next stop for TCW is the Alaska State Fair, where they will be performing both children’s theater and dance theater.

This year’s production for children is called “Furry Tales.” The original piece written by Klauschie includes new takes on old fairy tales like “The Three Bears”, “The Bremen Town Musicians”, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”, “Peter and the Wolf”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

“I wanted to include some better known ones with a few that were more obscure,” Klauschie said. “And of course they had to include animals and the potential for fun.”

The fun continues in the dance theater with cast members doing fully costumed and choreographed numbers from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Hairspray”, “Little Shop of Horrors,” and both of the “Sister Act” movies.

Following the fair, the company will be performing their reader’s theater and mystery division program at schools and libraries. The reader’s theater adapts children’s literature like “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” into play scripts.

The mystery program is aimed at teen reading groups to encourage teamwork and deductive reasoning.

TCW will stay busy throughout the winter with Christmas themes, such as Dickensian carolers and a revue about love planned for Valentines Day.

TCW is always looking for new and varied talents and is open to suggestions.

“Please contact us if you want to be a part of this,” Klauschie said.

For more information on TWC you can contact Jack Klauschie at [email protected] or visit their Web site at www.geocities.com/tcwak.