By Teresa Jansen, Riverside actress and folk musician
Riverside Center for Education’s eighth theatrical production, “It Happened on Fifth Avenue,” took place on Dec. 14 and 15, at Mayslake Peabody Estate, in Oakbrook, IL.
The play was about the wealthy, but broken O’Connor family who come home to find that their house, on Fifth Ave. in New York, is being inhabited by people in need. The O’Connors’ daughter, who had run away from her family and arrived home before her parents, asked that they keep their identities a secret because she had made friends with the house’s inhabitants. The good cheer and Christmas spirit touch the hearts of the O’Connors’ and they are united once again.
The show was put on by a cast of about 30 actors and actresses, ages 8-14. Seumas Doyle, age 11, played one of the lead characters. He said that he really wanted the role and that he knew that this particular role was a “huge, funny character.”
“It was just a big experience, for only my fifth play,” Doyle said.
Family members of the actors and actresses made up a big part of the audience. Liberty Penosky, who has been in a few of Riverside’s shows and is a sister of two of the actors, thought the play was “awesome” and also funny.
The show itself took a lot of work to prepare. Two Riverside Tutors, Dan Janeiro and Liam Mitchell, directed the show. Nhu Dinh put together costumes and she and her daughters helped collect props, while Mike Manthei took care of sound.
Janeiro said that there were about five weeks of practice and what he liked about this play was that there were different types of acting. He said that there was some naturalistic acting, some comedic acting, and there was also drama and tension.
Janeiro said that his favorite part of directing Riverside plays is watching one of the actors have a “break-through moment or a moment where they really nail a part, especially one that was particularly difficult.”
Most of the actors and actresses in this show had been in a Riverside play before, but there were a few new faces. Maggie Sullivan was not only acting in her first play, but also was participating in her first Riverside activity.
“I think it’s a nice place to build friendships that can last longer than a month,” Sullivan said.
Riverside, an Imaginative Outpost, offers a variety of programs in addition to Theatre, including the flagship Tutorial, Folk Music, Maker and Ranger.