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Traveling interactive theater duo puts on play for Eagle River youngstersSubmitted: 06/28/2017

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EAGLE RIVER - When your entire theater production fits in the back of your SUV, you need to know how to do -- and be -- just about everything.

"You kind of have to be the jack of all trades," actor Chris Cummings said.

Cummings is a stagehand, a set designer, and this summer a bug.  He and fellow actor Jennifer Schreiner travel the Midwest out of their Chicago-area homes for the Traveling Lantern Theatre Company, which is based in Portland, Oregon.

The pair puts on interactive shows for kids. Wednesday, the duo performed for library groups in Land O' Lakes and Eagle River as a pair of bugs looking to build a house.

Their show, "The Ribbles Build a Residence", is based on library's summer theme of "Build a better world." It helps celebrate architect Frank Lloyd Wright's 150th birthday.

"You never know what kind of impact you could have on a kid, which is why this is so important," Cummings said.

Cummings and Schreiner pull kids up on stage to have them act out bit parts and get involved with the show.

"Hey, you can get up here, you can do this, it's not as hard as you think and it's just having fun," Cummings said.

Eagle River's Olson Memorial Library Children's Resource Director Pat Lamon brought the traveling team back to the Northwoods for the first time in a few years.

"We try to foster [creativity] as much as we can," Lamon said. "[The kids are] interacting with other kids and that's better than just sitting in your room."

The library's summer programs don't cost people anything, nor does Lamon set an age limit.

"A lot of us are kids at heart so this kind of program resonates and they come," Lamon said.

Wednesday's show didn't draw a huge crowd. The site was moved from outside in Riverside Park to inside the Christ Lutheran School gym due to bad weather. But Cummings knows if he reaches just one person, his job -- of many jobs -- is complete.

"People who maybe think they don't belong anywhere, they can find that home in theater," Lamon said. "Because there is literally something for everyone."

The Traveling Lantern team headed south to the Madison area after Wednesday's shows.

Lamon hopes adults show up to her summer mystery game "Roswell That Ends Well" on Thursday night. It's set from 6 - 9 p.m. You can call the library for more info at 715-479-8070.

For more info about the Traveling Lantern group visit their website via the link below.

Related Weblinks:
Traveling Lantern Theatre Company

Story By: Lane Kimble

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