'Little Red Riding Hood' will never be the same

The student division of the Depot Theater Company will present "Totally Red," a contemporary twist on the story of Little Red Riding Hood this weekend.
Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. March 8 and 9 in the Homestead Theater.
The cast features 17 actors ages 10 to 15.
The show begins with a fairly routine telling of the basic story then the cast decides to have a little fun and present parts of the story in various theatrical styles: melodrama, Shakespeare, hip hop, musical rap and avante garde.
"What attracted us to this script was the chance to tell a story that everybody's familiar with then explore different genres and acting styles," said Connie Penick, CEO of the Depot Theater Company and director of "Totally Red."
Penick built a production schedule that called for nine rehearsals but recent snow storms forced the cancellation of four of them.
"We adjusted our schedule. But as we were rescheduling rehearsals, everybody else in town was also rescheduling things knocked out by the snow," Penick said.
As a result, the cast stretched their two-hour rehearsals to three hours and buckled down to get the work done.
"I think they think I'm a slave driver," Penick said.
Penick admits being concerned with that many canceled rehearsals.
"I told the cast they should be working on their own during the snow days and they came back with everything memorized, ready to get to work. I was very pleased," Penick said.
Since the storm break, the cast has been working hard, learning a little about concentration and Penick is looking forward to a smooth performance.
"They'll be able to handle it," she said.
Helping Penick with technical elements of the production are Dee Miller, who is providing character costumes; Sherry Polkinghorn, who is serving as stage manager and helping with the set; Monte Klecker, a student who is helping with lights and sound; Earl Unruh and Karl Steinmetz, who are helping with construction; and Jola Miller, who has chosen music to support the various styles.
"We also owe a thank you to Tylyn Shrader and Lauren Groth who conducted a workshop over their Christmas break," Penick said.
"They helped the students learn about the audition process and also about the various theater genres important to the script."
The production is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas, Sunflower Bank and the Credit Union of Dodge City.
"All proceeds go to support Destination Center Stage, our youth program," Penick said.
Penick's favorite part of the rehearsal process is when the lines are learned and the blocking is done and she can see the students begin to be creative.
"We've had time in this process to analyze the story and the motivations of the various characters. Time to ask questions like 'Why does the wolf trick Red Riding Hood instead of just devouring her?' We've explored the plot and the thought processes of each character," she said.
Penick told the cast at a recent rehearsal that they had a show and were ready for an audience.
"I really wish people could see where the kids start and see the growth that happens in their performances," Penick said.
But even though you'll only be able to see the final results, Penick and her cast are ready to show you what they've accomplished — and entertain you along the way.

What: "Totally Red," a production of Destination Center Stage, the Depot Theater Company's youth division.
When: 7 p.m. March 8 and 9
Where: Homestead Theater
Tickets: $8 for adults, children 5 and under $5.
Reservations: call 225-1001.