The advent of the new season for Oregon City's Krayon Kids is an emotional one for founder Dianne Kohlmeier, as it will be the final production for her granddaughter, Kadyn Skipper.
"I'm so grateful she has loved performing these past 17 years so three generations could enjoy the journey with her," she said, noting that her granddaughter's first role was when she was carried across the stage as an infant in a flower costume.
Kohlmeier also is proud of daughter Kamala, Kadyn's mother, who was a Krayon Kid and is now the choreographer for the shows.
"Twin Moons Rising," the new production, opens Nov. 8, and features five other senior girls who have been with Krayon Kids for years.
They "will be so missed, but I'm sure there are always fantastic young people with skills waiting in the wings who want to try their turn on the Barclay stage," Kohlmeier said, noting that performers age out of Krayon Kids after their senior year in high school.
The play takes place 200 moons ago in the mystical land of Arcadia, when a spell was cast, depleting all remnants of color from the land, leaving only darkness and despair. Slowly "The Fade," as it became known, swept across the region, and embedded itself into the very hearts of the Arcadian people.
There is only one way for the curse to be broken: A set of twins, born as the Twin Moons rose in the sky overlooking Arcadia. Will they be reunited on the eve of their 18th birthday, and do they hold the key to releasing Arcadia from the darkness?
"Twin Moons Rising" brings together spirited fairies, not-so-evil witches, the majestic Ravakwan Temple and many more fantastical characters as they join forces to fight for "global color change," and battle to regain their freedom from the colorless curse.
It is not a coincidence that the plot of the play echoes the reality of issues in the real world today.
"In this show, the fairies who inhabit Spindalwood Forest are teaching their 'faeries in training' lessons of kindness, loyalty and how to get along with all people," Kohlmeier said.
She noted that because the show is a fantasy, it is easier to slip in problems like building walls and global warming.
In the end, the Faerie Queen and the Queen Mother of the Witches and Warlocks come together to find peace.
"Then, thanks to the twins, the blessings of the colors in the rainbow have returned and not only flooded the hearts of the people, but Arcadia has been restored," Kohlmeier said.
"Twin Moons Rising" features a cast of 50 kids who have numerous costume changes. As director, Kohlmeier has to make sure sets are in place and actors are moving from place to place with motivation.
"Fantasy is the hardest kind of show to write. You must have a beginning, an end, thoughtful meanings that can be laughable and lots of meat and potatoes in the middle," she said.
As for the rewards of producing and directing a show, Kohlmeier said watching young actors put on their costumes for the first time is still one of the most amusing things that happens, because there's such a variety of reactions.
"Our costumes are absolutely spectacular" for everyone from the lead actors down to the smallest children in tiny roles, she said.
Audience members will find something for everyone in the show, and "while we touch on serious subjects and address current issues, we'll never fail to do our best to provide upbeat music and breathtaking costumes for the viewing audience," Kohlmeier said.
"For these past 27 years, it's been a thrill to see so many skills performed on the Barclay stage. I believe that each and every child learns more confidence in theater," she said.
"Everywhere we go, everyone we meet, every situation we encounter, is easy if you present yourself in a confident manner. I believe with all my heart that theater does that for everyone," Kohlmeier said.
She noted that Martin and Kirstee Stevens, a now-married couple who met as Krayon Kids, are stepping in as new directors for the company, along with Kirstee's younger sister, Kenzie Schumacher.
"All these talented people are teachers and experienced performers. Martin is the fiddling prodigy who grew up in Krayon Kids, and his niece, Desley, and nephew, Zac, both currently play in the KK shows," Kohlmeier said.
"It just feels like the Krayon Kids family legacy will be continuing."
Skipper plays Keefa, a bright and optimistic fairy in "Twin Moons Rising."
"The character is the physical embodiment of rainbows and sunshine and has such a cheery outlook on the world," she said.
Her favorite characteristic of Keefa is her immense love for life.
"She values kind words and makes an effort to positively impact others. I love playing the effervescent fairy, as I get to share her views with our audiences," Skipper said.
Her favorite scene in the show is the finale, when the cast sings "Color My World."
"This year, the finale is very meaningful to me, as each time I sing that number it is a step closer to the finale on this act of my life. Krayon Kids has indeed colored my world and has shaped who I am today," Skipper said.
She noted that the phrase "Once a Krayon Kid, always a Krayon Kid" is "really a wonderful symbol of all of the connections you form while a part of this magical theater company."
Skipper said "this experience gives you the confidence to face any challenge in your life, because if you can sing and dance in front of a crowd of strangers, you can face any potentially scary situation."
Audiences should come see "Twin Moons Rising" so that they can experience "the happiness that radiates off of each and every one of our talented kids," she said.
"By seeing the show, you enrich not only your own life, but the lives of the 50 young children who step onto that stage to perform for you."
Skipper added that she is grateful to have been born into the Krayon Kids family.
"My grandmother created a truly wonderful experience for generations to come, and she had the extreme fortune to see both her daughter and her granddaughter make their mark on this theater company as it moves forward."
End colorless curse
What: Krayon Kids presents "Twin Moons Rising"
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 8, 15 and 22; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 9,
16 and 23; and 2 p.m. Nov. 10, 17 and 24
Where: Barclay Theater, 812 12th St., Oregon City
Tickets: $15 adults, $10 seniors and students under 18. Details at krayonkids.org.
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