Apple Hill’s ‘Li’l Red’ a kid-friendly take on big, bad fairy tale

July 29, 2018
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Ambur Orowitz (right) of New Kensington is the title character in “L’il Red,” playing July 31-Aug. 4 at Apple Hill Playhouse in Delmont.

Parents needn’t worry about giving their young children nightmares by bringing them to a play based on the classic children’s story of “Little Red Riding Hood” at Apple Hill Playhouse.

In this adaptation by Richard Kinter, the “big, bad wolf” is not that bad -- and isn’t very scary at all.

“L’il Red” is a musical farce in which a nearsighted little girl, Rose Bluebell, played by Ambur Orowitz of New Kensington, loses her glasses and doesn’t realize the stranger she meets in the woods actually is a wolf, played by Rachel Lewandowski of Greensburg.

Villain in disguise

The wolf is having problems of her own, frustrated because she isn’t carrying on the family tradition of “gobbling up” tasty victims.

“The Wolf wants to gobble up someone because her father did, and she has been unsuccessful because no one takes the short cut anymore,” Lewandowski says. “She tries donning disguises, such as an Opera Singer and the Fairy of the Forest, in order to lure Rose into the forest.”

The 10th-grade Greensburg Central Catholic High School student encourages kids to see “L’il Red” because it’s a fun new take on the original story.

Audience Interaction

“We have zany characters that differ greatly from the beloved original characters,” she says. “Kids will get to interact with the characters throughout the show and will also help our Li’l Red on her journey to her Grandmother’s (Katherine Marsten of Monroeville) house.”

Lewandowski recently performed in “Godspell” at her high school and in “Sleeping Beauty” at Apple Hill. She will be in Actors and Artists of Fayette County’s fall production of “All Shook Up.”

Orowitz, a seventh-grader at Kiski Area Junior High School, says Rose also has issues with her “nonstop chattering mother, Milaminia,” played by Jillian Blackburn of Monroeville. Her efforts to play matchmaker for her with the local woodsman, Anxious Evermum (Michael Dunlap of Latrobe), aren’t going well either.

“Having lost her daddy three years ago, Rose yearns for her family to be complete again. She feels belittled by her mother and learns to finds her voice in this humorous tale,” she says.

Orowitz participated in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Kiski Area High School and in “Hometown Christmas” at the Casino Theater in Vandergrift.

Catchy Tunes

Weeks after the show, kids will still be singing songs from “L’il Red,” says director June Beighley of Pittsburgh, who grew up in North Huntingdon and teaches at Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, where she directs the annual middle school musical.

She also directed “Cinderella” at Apple Hill and “Wizard of Oz” at Gemini Children’s Theater last season. She says she loves working with student actors.

“This cast is very creative and enthusiastic, and they’ve really committed to making the most of every moment in the script,” she says.

Zach Gilkey of Irwin is stage manager.

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