Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daniel Thompson
Editor 

"The Great American Duck Parade" coming to Potter

 

Image Courtesy of Kristin Kasten

The cast of "The Great American Duck Parade". Front row: Kyle Lenstrom, Jaxon Biesecker, Naomi Hutchinson, Alexa Shoemaker, Nate Hutchinson Second Row: Sabrynn Bogert, Amanda Waggoner, Gunnar Oleson, Kenzie Shoemaker, Deanna Horst, Madisson Harris, Hannah Kielian. Third Row: Josh Kasten, Jayden Shoemaker, Kendal Nielsen, Mary Kasten, Luke Kasten, Donnie Moench, Karter Wittrock. Fourth Row: Zach Rotert, McKynna Deeds, Reagan Biesecker. Fifth Row: Hannah Stahl, Erica Bogert. Not pictured: Emily Bussanich, Dawsen Monheiser, Hatcher Baxendale, Brooke Moench, Michaela Rotert and Shawn Waggoner

The Potter-Dix Children's Theater will be putting on a production of "The Great American Duck Parade" Friday, July 18 at the American Legion Hall in Potter.

The play centers around the character of Quincy, a grumpy old duck, who decides to make the Fourth of July tolerable for everyone at the duck pond and hosts an All-American Duck Parade. According to Kristin Kasten, who serves as a director for the play with Beth Bogert, the play is completely locally produced and written.

"It's actually a play written by my mom. I wanted to do a patriotic play, and I didn't want to include George Washington and, you know, I didn't want to do the school type play. Because it's summer. And I also didn't want anything political. And I told my mom about it, and she wrote me the play. I added music to it and changed things. I added more characters to fit our cast and so that's why we have that story," Kasten said.

The cast this year is made up of 31 children, ages 4 through 13. The number of cast members is slightly down from last year's production, but Kasten states that the smaller cast more than makes up for the lacking numbers through their enthusiasm, especially when belting out familiar patriotic songs such as "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "You're a Grand Old Flag".

"We have fun and they're just so energetic ,and they're excited. They love singing those songs. This year, especially, with those patriotic songs. They knew some of them and so they just sing those songs with such energy. It's just so entertaining to watch. It's exciting to be a part of it," Kasten said.

The cast has also been under a time crunch when getting ready for the production, only having two weeks to learn the lyrics to the songs and movements required for the performance.

"If we had more than two weeks, I think it would be a chore for the kids so we do what we can in the time that we have. I think they do well with what they have and they have a good time. That's part of why they're there, and that's because it's enjoyable. They enjoy doing it," Kasten said.

For Kasten, it is also exciting to see so many familiar faces come back to participate in each year's performance with some being part of the production for the seven years that the children's theater has been performing.

"We have one cast member that's been in it every year. And she said this would be her last and that she would kind of help in next year's. So she will be in sixth grade. When she started, she was in preschool and we had to wake her up from nap time for practice. It's neat. I think out of all the kids that we have on our cast this year only two are new, they've never done it before," Kasten said.

However, though the play serves as a source of entertainment and a way for the children involved to have fun on stage during their summer break, the most important aspect of the play is that it serves as a fundraiser for the Potter-Dix Early Learning Facility, which includes a daycare and a preschool.

"That's the number one reason why we're doing it is to raise money for the Potter-Dix Early Learning Facility which is the only, that I know of, daycare in Potter or Dix. So that's the main reason we're there. So that's why we have the silent auction in the back, and we have some carnival games for kids outside," Kasten said.

The fundraiser also serves as a way for the preschoolers involved in the play to be active in supporting the facility that has supported them and helped them in their development.

"The only preschoolers that are in the performance are ones who have gone to the Potter-Dix Early Learning Facility, because we know that they've had that structure and setting so they could handle it," Kasten said. "Those preschoolers when they're up there, they just steal the show, because they're just so cute. Of course, I can't tell them that they're cute, because they'll just look at me like, 'No, we're not.'"

The play also has a shorter run time in order to cut down on the possibility that the younger cast members may lose focus on stage.

"The play lasts about 30 minutes, in that range. And it's just perfect for preschoolers, because during two hours of practice, they're standing, sitting, playing with their shirts and they're focusing maybe 40 or 50 percent of the time so when we have the performance, that's just a nice, short performance and they seem to be able to focus for that amount of time so it's just a good length for them," Kasten said.

A silent auction will also be held before the performance starting at 6 p.m. inside the Legion Hall with all the items being donated by areas businesses and individuals. There will also be carnival games for young children outside of the Legion Hall from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the door before the 7:00 p.m. performance. However, though there is a charge for adults and students, preschoolers will be admitted free of charge.

"It's just a good cause and you know, people enjoy music, and if they're patriotic, which we all are in this part of the country, we'd love to have them join us," Kasten said.

The play is directed by Kasten and Beth Bogert with costumes designed by Kathy Gorman. Pastor Betsy Galloway serves as the accompanist for the production.

 

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