Greenwood Theater Group brings fairy tales from the backwoods to IndyFringe

Stories are timeless and beloved artifacts passed down through generations of childhood.

Everyone knows the tales of the Three Little Pigs, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk. But these popular stories take on a different hue when intertwined with the sounds, words and sights of Appalachia.

In the hands of the Greenwood-based Agape Theater Company, the fables become something entirely new in their final performance.

“It’s like a fun mirror — same story, similar aspects, but very different feel,” said Grant Scott-Miller, who directs one of the show’s vignettes.

In a unique blend of classic tales and mountain folklore, the actors of the Agape Theater Company stage “Sing Down the Moon: Appalachian Wonder Tales”. The award-winning musical blends traditional storytelling with original music, resulting in a family-friendly mix of storytelling, song, puppetry and dance.

“It’s about telling fables through a different cultural perspective. It’s fun, it’s lighthearted, it tells typical stories in a new light that isn’t typically seen across Appalachian culture, which makes it more fun to watch,” said Brynn Hensley, who directs one of the show’s vignettes. . “It’s a whimsical way to get into the stories we all knew as kids.”

Agape presents the show starting Thursday as part of this year’s IndyFringe, an annual celebration of indie art featuring a collection of the most offbeat, original, yet always thought-provoking performances local theater has to offer. To be included in such a popular cultural event was exhilarating.

“I’m really excited to do this, especially since (IndyFringe) is a really big downtown festival that a lot of people go to,” said Lacey Pierce, a Southport resident who plays the titular Catskins in the show. story based on Cinderella. “I can tell this story to other people, let them know how special and fun it is, and maybe let other people experience it too.”

This is not the first time that Agape has taken part in IndyFringe. The troupe was accepted to be part of the festival in 2020, but the pandemic forced its cancellation. Agape debuted in 2021 with “Narnia.”

In 2020 they were accepted to be part of IndyFringe. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced the cancellation of the event, so Agape had to wait another year to debut at Fringe Fest.

Agape Theater Company was founded as the theater ministry of Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic Church to provide more opportunities for young actors on the South Side. Since then he has directed works ranging from “The Pirates of Penzance” and “Into the Woods Jr.” to “Macbeth” and “Newsies”.

Their production of “Les Misérables” won the award for the most impressive youth theater production of 2017, while the production of “The Tempest” won the award for the most impressive youth theater production of 2019.

The organization was also invited to participate in another Indianapolis-area theater festival, Indy Bard Fest, and the troupe performed “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in 2018, “The Tempest” in 2019, and “Macbeth.” Last year.

Thinking about this year’s submission to IndyFringe, Agape Executive Director Kathy Phipps wanted to find a show that would appeal to local families, introducing them to theater they had probably never encountered. At the same time, it was important to give older members of the theater group the opportunity to direct the productions.

“Each of the three stories is led by a college-aged student who has worked with us before. These talented young people have proven creative abilities and we want to encourage their growth as theater leaders,” said Phipps. “‘Sing Down the Moon is the perfect opportunity for us to provide exceptional family entertainment while mentoring the next generation of theater professionals.”

The musical features vignettes that tell three classic stories. “Sow and Her Three Pigs” centers on a family of pigs outmaneuvering a cunning fox. “Catskins” turns Cinderella into a spunky and resourceful mountain girl, played by Lacey Pierce, who meets her love at a barn dance.

“Jack Tales” follows the clever Jack through the adventures of climbing a magical vine and outwitting the giants he encounters.

“It’s a little different. There are some really fun twists that really fit into the whole Appalachian aesthetic,” said Rachel Majorins, an Indianapolis resident who plays Jack in “Jack Tales.” “It’s so much fun. It’s fun to play for a festival.

The rehearsal for the show has been going on for weeks, as the students have mastered their lines and the choreography for the show. At the same time, they needed to learn about the music and culture of the Appalachian region.

They worked on the speech patterns, lifestyles and values ​​of people who live in these mountainous regions.

“For me, this story is about guarding your heart and protecting yourself from people who may take it for granted,” said Rebekah Barajas, who leads “Sow and Her Three Pigs” during the show. “They worked so hard to tell the story, and they’re really into it. It was really fun.

“Sing Down the Moon” opens at the Athenaeum with a pair of performances on Thursday and Friday, before returning for another round of performances Aug. 27-28.

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