Children’s Theatre switches it up with ‘The Prince and the Pauper’

In a scene from the Children’s Theatre’s production of “The Prince and the Pauper,” Dominic Hammond plays Palace Page 1, Paul Edelman is Prince Edward, Quentin Snyder plays Palace Page 2 and Luke Turner is the Pauper. The play will be staged Saturday and Sunday at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Mark Twain’s classic “The Prince and the Pauper” comes to life this weekend by way of The Children’s Theatre in Dover.

The tale focuses on a case of a lookalike royal and peasant duo who swap places for fun at first, but then become trapped, living the other’s life because no one believes either is an imposter until the very end.

The Children’s Theatre last performed the show 15 years ago but director Patricia Beetschen knew this was a good time to bring it back.

“I think it’s always important to imagine what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes and experience things in a way you wouldn’t typically,” she said.

“We have to have an understanding and appreciation of others who may live differently than ourselves.”

Luke Turner plays the role of the pauper boy Tom Canty, who lives with his abusive father. The role is his first with the Children’s Theatre.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” he said. “Rehearsals have been a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to the show.”

The Children’s Theatre Inc., cast of “The Prince and the Pauper” will present the play at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Due to his similar appearance to the prince, Luke’s character is taken away by the guards to the palace to live as the prince.

Noelle Snyder plays Lady Jane, the prince’s cousin.

“I really love my character because she’s very nice and when Tom is in place of the prince and seems kind of crazy because he doesn’t know anything about the royal life, she tries to help him out when not all the other characters are,” she said.

None of the royals have any idea that Tom is in the place of the prince. They all assume he has an illness that’s affecting his memory.

Noelle, 10, has been acting for three years when her family encouraged her to get involved in an after-school activity.

Jude Quinene is Lord Hertford, the prince’s uncle, in “The Prince and the Pauper.”

Ace Clark plays the role of Miles Hendon, a knight who has returned to England who becomes a protector of Prince Edward.

“For me, I’m kind of a quiet guy and my first role was Rumpelstiltskin, so with a character like that I was forced to come out of my shell and put it all out there, which is one of the things I like about acting so much,” he said.

Ace said he loves seeing once-shy kids really become their character and own the stage.

“Seeing that transformation is so cool and it happens to almost all of us,” he said.

But the transformation doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a product of the group.

“Diving into a character and being loud on stage can be really intimidating,” said Lillian Mandalas, portraying the role of Old Biddy. “It takes a lot of trust but that’s we’ve been able to gain through acting together and working hard at every rehearsal.”

As the story takes place in England in 1537, all the actors have interesting and unique costumes to look forward to.

Maria Hammond, who plays the Pauper’s mother, consoles Paul Edlelman as the prince.

“The costumes are very fancy and a lot of fun to wear,” said Rachel Hammond, 15, portraying Lady Gwen. “And it’s cool because since they are so different than today’s clothes that when you put the costume on, it completely changes the tone of rehearsal.”

One of the highlights for most of the kids is that the Children’s Theatre gives them a chance to meet new people they have things in common with.

“I’m homeschooled and a few of my castmates are too so I think for us especially, it’s great to get out and doing things with new kids,” Noelle said.

“I spend a lot of time with my family members so I love coming here and having fun with all these nice people. And the fact that we’re all doing something we really like makes it that much better.”

“The Prince and the Pauper” takes the stage at the Schwartz Center for the Arts 226 S. State St. in Dover on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Attendees are encouraged to dress in costume for the show and show off their style with a walk across the stage during intermission.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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