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Adventures in olden times

Sure it has fence painting, dead cats and giggling first kisses, but there’s more to “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” than that.
“It’s a children’s play to an extent, but it’s bigger than a children’s play,” said Bucky Reynolds, who plays Huckleberry Finn.
The Lincoln Theatre Guild’s production of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” will run this week only. The show will start at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.

The play has all the elements one expects from the classic story – Tom is mischievous, but good hearted, Aunty Polly is a loving disciplinarian, Becky pouts and Huckleberry Finn is a boy with adventure on his mind.
“It speaks of a time much more simple and uncomplicated,” said Peggy Boring, the play’s director. “People want to see that, and they miss some of the other levels in the stories.”
Those other levels include neglect, hypocrisy and racism. Huckleberry Finn, while a happy-go-lucky boy, is also homeless. Despite the town’s Christian values, many residents don’t want anything to do with the boy. Town members have also persecuted Injun Joe because he is a “half breed.”
“Injun Joe is played as a product of his environment,” said Boring. “(The townspeople) had given him no opportunities to better himself and be a better citizen.”
The play takes a dark turn when the boys witness Injun Joe commit a murder in the cemetery.
“We’re just simple boys running around, stealing and playing with dead cats,” said Billy Daniel, who plays Tom Sawyer. “We see a murder. After that everything changes.”
Despite some serious subject matter, the play generally stays lighthearted. Part of the reason for this is the likable main character.
“He is so good at everything. He is shy, manipulative, misbehaved and sweet,” said Daniel. “He can get anything he wants, and people still love him. He still has his innocence.”
One character who has taken a particular shine to Tom is Becky.
“She’s very interested in boys, and she’s at that age where boys don’t have cooties anymore,” said Lauren Fortkort who plays Becky.
Tom also has his legion of boy followers, one of whom is being played by Karin Okonski. This is her first gender-bending role.
“Seeing as how I live in a house of all females, it was very challenging,” she said.
She sought advice from boys in the play, but didn’t come away with anything she could use.
“They just told me that guys act stupid, which wasn’t very helpful,” she said.
Boys being boys is part of what makes the play have universal appeal.
“I think it’s a good story. It’s about children and olden times,” said Kirk Herbertson, who plays Joe’s father. “It’s fun.”
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” will run March 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. and March 20 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. For more information call (704) 735-ACT1.
by Sarah Grano

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