All in the family 

Childrens theater production a family collaboration

click to enlarge Christopher Keller (top) and Emily Dahlke, who must clean her room.
  • Christopher Keller (top) and Emily Dahlke, who must clean her room.

"Family collaboration works. We just all connect," said Eve Tilley, director and producer of Mess-Enchantment, a creative effort that involves her two sons, her husband and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law. The season finale of the First Saturdays series at the Manitou Art Theater, Mess-Enchantment combines fairy tales and creative children's theater with audience participation, puppets and a little girl, actress/writer Emily Dahlke, who must clean her room.

The show is the brainchild of Dahlke and her fiance, Tilley's son Christopher Keller. While working together at the Omaha Theater Company for Young People, and touring for nine months with the nationally popular "The Mouse and The Motorcycle," Keller and Dahlke fell in love and began creating their own kind of magic story.

Adapted partially from two fairy tales, "Seven Ravens" by the Brothers Grimm, and "The Wicked Prince" by Hans Christian Andersen, Mess-Enchantment is a prop-heavy, very active piece.

"One of the strengths is how they plan to use the audience," director/Mom Tilley said.

"We're trying to make it as theatrical, as exciting as we can. Without a doubt, children require lots of input, or they get bored very quickly," said Keller.

"We have a pre-show warm-up to get the kids as involved as possible," added Dahlke. At one point in the story, she says, "The kids are stars, with little lights they'll hold in their hands ... they'll be integral [to] the action."

Keller says his favorite part so far is the construction of the set; Sol Chavez (his stepfather and Tilley's husband) is helping build it. There is an enormous bed that transforms as scenes change and overhead projectors with moving cellophane.

Keller's brother Lewis is more of an auditory guy: Due to begin studying soon at CalArt, he will first provide all of the music and sound effects for Mess-Enchantment, all through his laptop computer.

-- J. N. Nail

capsule Mess-Enchantment

Saturday, May 15, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Manitou Art Theater at the Business of Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave.

All ages, $8

Call 685-4729 or 685-1861 for more


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