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Home Uncategorized Kids enjoy Plum Creek children’s show

Photo description: The cast of “Sammy Keys and the Hotel Thief” with its author, Wendelin Van Draanen.

Photo credit: Kayla Korb

Kayla Korb

Sower Staff


The first Plum Creek Literacy Festival children’s show since the pandemic, an adaptation of Wendelin Van Draanen’s “Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief,” was a hit with students from elementary school to college.

Normally a 145-page book, a CUNE alumnus adapted the story into a 30-minute play for children. The show was student-directed by Elizabeth Ascher and her stage manager Julie Oetting and was performed five times on Friday.

The story is about Sammy Keyes, a 13-year-old girl who lives in her grandma’s apartment illegally. She uses a pair of binoculars to accidentally see a thief from the hotel across the street, and waves at him.

Sammy then goes for a walk with her best friend Marissa. They see police tape and a woman who is telling the police about how she got robbed. Sammy takes it into her own hands to solve the case. Using clues she finds, like ice cream napkins with the address of the lady who got robbed, Sammy concludes that the thief is the ice cream man who is pretending to be blind.

Younger children were a little surprised near the end of the show, but got caught up in a chase scene that gets the audience involved.

As kids were walking out of the performance, one said: “That show was better than I thought it would be.” Another said: “Does our library have this book? I need to get the book series now!”

Professor of Communication and Theatre Arts Brian Moore said “She [Draanen] is the second author to see a show from the festival.”

“The performance was amazing for having a 145-page book [turned] into a 30-minute show,” Draanen said, “capturing all the important information from the book.”

The show was the first put on for the Plum Creek festival since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was also Ascher’s first time being a student director. “It was a quick process,” said Ascher. “We put it all together in about five weeks.”

The most rewarding part for Asher was the kids’ reactions and enjoyment.

“During the chase scene at the end, they get all excited.” Ascher said. “They just like movement and action.”

Casting for shows can be difficult as some parts require a certain gender or skill level. This show was not that difficult to cast, although the crew “had to get a little creative with a few of the roles,” as Ascher put it, “I am pretty sure that the police officers were supposed to be male.” But this did not affect the show or meaning. They were “Pretty simple, flexible changes,” Ascher said.

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