Director's Chair
May 13, 2014
Another Successful Show at ACT

Sunday, May 11 saw the close of “Butterflies Are Free” at
ACT. The play ran for five performances to small houses,
but was very well received. Although the cast and crew
were disappointed by the low attendance, they did a
magnificent job at recreating this period piece from the
late 60s, early 70s. The show was a financial success for
ACT due to the low cost of the sets and costumes.

All of the actors are to be commended for their work. Levi Ludwig had the difficult job of convincingly
portraying a blind man on stage. This was only his second role with Auburn Community Theater, but
he showed his considerable talent at the job. After several performances, some audience members
who didn’t know Levi expressed surprise to find out he wasn’t really blind. This was a real mark of his
believable performance.

Equally skilled was the performance turned in by Breanna Schmidt. In her third show with ACT, she
portrayed the flighty spirited butterfly of the show, a role originated by Blythe Danner on Broadway in
1969, and later reprised by a young Goldie Hawn. Breanna was delightfully uninhibited, embodying
the image of the late 60s and early 70s in her attitudes toward marriage, love and life. Her
performance showed real growth in her acting abilities. We wish her well as she head off to college.

Once again Cheryl Franklin showed her ability to handle both comedy and drama. Her considerable
talent was evident as she careened through laugh lines only to turn on a dime and pull tears from the
audience with her heart wrenching decision to let go of her son. She proved the play was as much
about the mother as it was about the boy.

In a small, cameo role, Ken Liddle gave a wonderful performance as the theatrical director who
unwittingly is stepping between the young couple. His verbal gaffs and unplanned insults to Franklin’s
character brought laughter to his character which might have otherwise been seen as the “bad guy.”
He played very well off the other three actors.

The additional messages in the play about equal treatment for the disabled were important. Although
a lot has changed in the intervening years, people still treat others differently because of divisions
such as disabilities. This play did a lot both in its day, as well as today to show that we are all human
beings, worthy of dignity and love.

A lot of other things came into play in creating this production, such as the work done by Michael
Byington as a consultant to the actors and director. He worked with Levi to help the actor portray a
realistic quality to his blind character. Byington works for Envision, an organization that helps the
disabled with training and mobility issues. His wife, Ann Byington produced a number of Braille
programs for the theater as well as some coupons in Braille. Nancy Johnson with the Kansas
Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired brought a booth of information for the lobby area, as
did Kelly Stites who brought information on the Relay for Life event.

ACT also was working to debut its new sound system. Newly installed microphones were used to
enhance the actors allowing audience members in the back of the auditorium to hear the lines with
the same clarity as those sitting close to the stage. Board member Bill Vrbanac worked with tech
director Ken Liddle to try to achieve a sound quality that enhanced and augmented the voices without
giving an over amplified feeling.

Now that “Butterflies Are Free” has been put to bed, the theater will be taking a short hiatus while
gearing up for the next production scheduled for the end of summer. August 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10 will see
“Station KACT’s Old Time Radio Show,” a play set in a radio station and featuring a lot of fun from old
radio shows. This show is being put together by local writers and based on radio shows of
yesteryear. If you have any desire to come demonstrate your talents on stage, join us for auditions on
June 17, 18 and 19. Even if you have little time and talent we can still find a place for you in this show.
It will be a fun filled family farce of a different kind. See you at the show!
This play was a comedic drama that not only elicited laughter from the
audiences but also pulled at the heartstrings. There were some deep
universal themes that many people identified with, particularly that of a
mother needing to let go of her child as that child grows in
independence and becomes an adult. This was a bittersweet
message to portray on Mother’s Day.
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