Actors with the Mitkof Mummers talk on stage before rehearsal. Photo/Angela Denning

Actors with the Mitkof Mummers talk on stage before rehearsal. Photo/Angela Denning

This week, the Mitkof Mummers acting group in Petersburg is putting on a children’s musical called “Toy Camp”. The one-hour show is about toy characters learning to be toys at a camp so they can be sold to good families.

The stage set alone makes you think kids. On the left, there’s a book shelf filled with stuffed animals next to large building blocks that spell “toy”. On the right, there’s a play castle. And when the actors take the stage…well that’s another big clue. They’re all dressed up as toys in some fashion.

Irene Littleton is the director.

“They go to school to learn to be the toys that they were made to be and they all have little issues and they have to figure out how to work through those issues and believe in themselves,” Littleton says.

For some toys, learning to be who they are is harder than for others. There are the four puzzle pieces, for example. Shelly Pope plays one of them known as Saw.

“Part of jig and saw, the puzzle pieces,” Pope says laughing. “We’re trying to fit it together but we’re just can’t seem to make our picture come out right.”

The puzzle pieces just can’t seem to cooperate on anything.

“I can’t believe you made us late for the first day of toy camp,” says one of them. “I did not. Did too. Did not. Did too. Not! Too! Not! Too!”

Then there’s the teddy bear that wears boxing gloves played by Tony Longdrew, the pastor at the Lighthouse Assembly church.

“I am teddy, I’m the huggable, snuggable bear that cannot seem to be nice, kind of rough around the edges a little bit,” Longdrew says. “Trying to discover something about himself that’s lovable. (laughs)”

Another character is Glow Toy played by Mary Leonard.
Mary: “I’m an adorable, cuddly little toy but unfortunately, I’m not too bright. That’s my struggle.”
Angela: So, you need to learn to….
Mary: “Glow brightly.”
Angela: “Can you describe your costume?”
Mary: “I can, I hope it doesn’t go against copyrights but I feel like the Michelin man in pastel…(laughs) Come to the play and see.”

And of course, no story would be complete without a little good and evil; a little scary element to keep things exciting. You see, there are consequences for not learning to be good toys.

Without spoiling it and telling you that there’s a happy ending, Director Littleton summarizes it this way:

“It is a very endearing show and it has a lot of great messages for kids and families,” Littleton says. “And we have had an absolute great time doing this play and producing it and we laugh every night and we just can’t wait to give back to the community what we’ve been doing for the last six weeks so we’re excited.”

Toy Camp will be performed at the Wright Auditorium three nights–this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The show starts at 7 p.m. each night. The doors open at 6:30. Tickets are for sale at the door.