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‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ uses double casting in Hartsville production

December 7, 2018

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Hartsville Community Players is presenting “The Velveteen Rabbit” on Saturday and Sunday at the Center Theater. Performances are at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. both days.

Ticket are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $8 for students. The box office opens one hour before the show begins, and seating opens 30 minutes before the performance.

“The Velveteen Rabbit” is a children’s play that is an adaptation of Margery Williams’ classic childhood story. It has the same basic plot structure but a few differences are found within, said Cecil Ray Morrell II, director and president of the Hartsville Community Players.

He said in a way it is a Christmas production in that “The Velveteen Rabbit” starts on Christmas morning.

“The events that take place afterward occur periodically throughout the boy’s life focusing on the boy’s attachment to the bunny,” Morrell said. “It highlights the joy a child has when they receive a gift and how, on some occasions, the gift attains a level of importance that far surpasses the traditional timeline of Christmas gifts becoming a lifelong memory that the child grows up in constant memory of.”

He said the play will appeal to both children and adults.

“Although the story was written for children it was first published sometime in the year 1922 so the odds of it resonating with an older audience is a strong probability,” he said. “The story is a classic for a reason as it shows the strong bond a child has with a specific toy which we all feel at some point in our youth adding to its overarching appeal.”

This production had such a good turnout of both children and teens for auditions that the director decided to have two productions – one with teens and one with children. The children will perform a 3 p.m. matinee each day, and the teens will perform at 7:30 p.m.

“The two casts were simply a product of over-preparation for this production,” Morrell said. “The past two shows had just enough people turn out for auditions that we were just able to have a full cast. Since each show only had two audition days, I decided to add a third thinking it would be necessary to get a good pool of talent. What occurred was a tremendous turnout of some thirty-odd hopeful and talented performers. By the third night I knew I had to do something. I had done something new and different to HCP with the previous production (gender-swapping nearly the entire cast) and decided to take another step in a new direction.

“Because of the sheer number of talented kids, the projected length of the show, and the small size of the script, I decided to add a second cast to showcase the talent of these kids. To my knowledge, no one in the history of HCP, or in Hartsville, has attempted to do a double cast children’s show. I understand that it is an ambitious undertaking which I’ve been called crazy for attempting, but regardless of the final product I have enjoyed the process of working with the kids so far.”

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