Middle school camp hits stage this week

Farm Forum

Will the son of a down-on-his-luck shoemaker be able to save his father’s store from a rival businessman?

That question will be answered in “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” presented by the cast of Storybook Land Theatre’s middle-school program, called Acting with the Stars. Performances are at 10 a.m. Tuesday and 7 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. The performances, which are free of charge, will be at the Storybook Land Castle at Wylie Park.

Acting with the Stars, which is in its 10th year, features students in grades five to 10 working alongside the SBLT cast. The young actors rehearse for six days before presenting the show, which is similar to the rehearsal schedule that the SBLT cast will follow for the rest of the summer.

“The Elves and the Shoemaker” was written by Noah Smith.

The play tells the story of the elderly shoemaker, Avner (Dawson Dillavou), and his son, Izzy (Briggs Tople), who is poised to take over the family business. The rival shoemaker, Midas J. Omnivereaux (Max Langbehn), however, plots to take over Avner’s store. Avner and Izzy must summon a few wacky elves to help make hundreds of shoes overnight for the wealthy Mrs. Dumontingly (Gabbie Brandt) to save the store.

“The camp is cool because you get to hang out with kids your own age, and it teaches you a lot about acting,” 13-year-old Claire Vetter, a veteran of the SBLT stage, said in a news release. She portrays Ghillie, a silly elf who does her best to help her older siblings finish the shoes in time.

The show also features Autumn Stolle as Dot, Isaac Seaton as Brogan and Rachel Salem as Plimsoll. Elves are played by Julia Friedrichsen, Eric Jacobsen, Jonah Kost, Jared Loecker, Joey Lombardi, Rawley Moore, Vanessa Nyamu, Jonathon Schwab, Shelby Snow, Jacob Walth and Riley Weinmeister.

Rawley, 11, is returning to the SBLT stage for his second show, after first appearing in “The Princess and the Pea” last weekend. He is enjoying expressing emotion in the camp and getting to know the other actors.

“You get to do special activities that you wouldn’t be able to in a regular show,” Rawley said in the release.

The current SBLT cast features Nick Brandt, Emily Davis, Liz Lewno, Chase Roesch, Isabella Seaton, Paige Walth and Austin Vetter. The cast manages all technical aspects of “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” including costumes, props and set construction.

Every member of the current cast was in the camp when they were younger, said Brian T. Schultz, director of the troupe.

“It’s a great opportunity for younger actors to get a feel for what being in the cast is like,” he said. “Many of the middle-school campers hope to earn a spot in a few years, so this is wonderful experience for them.”

Austin Vetter, in his first year in the SBLT cast, said the fast pace of the middle-school camp helped prepare him.

“Condensing rehearsals down to five days really helps with line memorization,” he said in the news release.

Liz Lewno, in her fourth year, and Nick Brandt, in his second, said the camp prepared them for working well under pressure.

For more information about “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” visit the Storybook Land Theatre Facebook page or

SBLT is sponsored by Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department and Aberdeen Community Theatre’s Young People’s Theatre with funding from the South Dakota Arts Council and the Aberdeen Area Arts Council.