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'Pocahontas' shines at Riverside Children's Theater
The Spirit of Mother Earth helps guide Pocahontas on her journey. Right: John Smith and the Jamestown Settlers.
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BY COLLETTE CAPRARA
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Pocahontas, the current feature at Riverside Children's Theater, bears a stirring authenticity that would surprise even the author of the script.
The rapt attention of children and adults in the audience is a testament to the efforts of co-directors Barbara and Mel Cochran, who took every measure to ensure that the production is historically and visually accurate.
This investment was rewarded by the generosity of local representatives of Indian tribes--Patricia "Si Wo Ke" Mills, founder of the Eagles Nest Educational Foundation, Chief Robert "Two Eagles" Green and Don "Flying Eagle" Shelton--who lent their treasured personal artifacts and regalia and gave advice regarding the story and its symbolism.
For example, the robe worn by Chief Powhatan in the play is composed of a thousand turkey feathers and valued at $5,000. It had been given to Chief Green by the director of the acclaimed historical documentary "The New World," in appreciation for his service as a technical consultant for the film.
"Coming into the show, I could not envision the resources that would be available to us," said Barbara Cochran. "This production has personally touched my heart."
Her enthusiasm and commitment is echoed by that of the actors.
"The cast has been amazing and has totally taken in everything that has been given to them," she said.
That embrace of the spirit of the American Indian culture is evident in the convincing performance by each of the actors.
Doug Wall aptly conveys the strong resolve, depth of heart and regal quality of Chief Powhatan. His granddaughter, Analisa Wall, portrays Pocahontas with moving credibility. Her spi-ritedness as a fun-loving prankster evolves into compassion for the plight of the starving settlers. Randy "R.J." O'Kelly captures both the courage and tribal loyalty of young Brave Eagle. And Anthony Williams' powerful portrayal of medicine man Thundercloud is enhanced by his fearsome attire, including a chest plate of bone and silver, authentic face painting, and skull-capped staff.
Choreographer Courtney Cox heightens the characters' authenticity with detailed attention to their movement, gestures and dance.
What: "Pocahontas" Where: Riverside Children's Theater, 95 Riverside Parkway When: Through Nov. 24. Saturdays: 1 p.m. lunch, 2 p.m. performance. Selected Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10:15 a.m. lunch, 11:30 a.m. performance. (Call for specific performance dates.) Cost: $18 Saturday matinees (lunch and show); $12 Tuesdays and Thursdays (show only, bring bag lunch). Info: 540/370-4300; riversidedt.com (Children's Theater)