By Chris Frost
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon on Aug. 6, and a perfect day for a production of Rumpelstiltskin at Harborview Park, another Fairy Tales in the Park adventure for the young and young at heart.
Approximately 100 people stopped by the production by Gypsies in a Trunk that was sponsored by the Children’s Dental Group.
The play was two acts and featured the antics of King Matthew and Louisa, portrayed by Andrew Chacon and Brianna Csellak who had to rescue their baby from the goblin (Rumpelstiltskin), played by TJ Aluisi, by guessing his name. When the king and Louisa failed to guess his name, Daisy, the narrator in training, portrayed by writer and director Vivian Gibson, entered the story and encouraged the children in the crowd to scream his name so the couple could keep their baby.
The narrator anchored the production and played Archibald Cecily Postwhistle III, portrayed by Chris Carnicelli, who is a 27-year stage veteran and has performed all over Ventura County.
Gibson said the gypsies play at Harborview Park every May through Sept.
“It’s a different show every month,” she said. “Chris, the fellow playing Archibald today, I went to see another show he was in over Christmastime, and he said Vivian we don’t have an August show.”
Gibson said she did a show in June, and jumped at the chance to do another production.
“I went home, and I was talking to my mother, and I thought what show I could do,” she said. “I didn’t want to do another princess story, I did Princess Pajama Party earlier this summer, and I wanted to do something with two narrators.”
Csellak took time after the show to pose with the kids so parents could snap a memory on their phones.
“This is the first time I worked with Fairy Tales in the Park, and it’s a fun way to spend the summer,” she said. “I am going to be in their next show “CSI Wonderland,” and I am going to be playing Tweedledum. I am going to be playing a boy so that will be fun.”
She prepares for a role in front of a mirror, she said, so she gets all her facial expressions just right for her character.
“Lots of it is looking around and observing how people act when they are feeling emotions,” she said. “You put yourself into a character and feel what would it feel like to have this happen to you?”
The trick, she said, is not to break from the character when she is on stage.
“There is some mirror work, but most of the time you want to feel like you are making those expressions,” she said.
Carnicelli said he thought the theater would be fun, so he gave it a shot.
“I went to the Moorpark Melodrama, tried a play, and it was fun,” he said. “I did it again and again, and I haven’t stopped.”
He said being a narrator isn’t a new role.
“She gave me this part because the play before this, Beauty and the Beast (and Bob) I played the narrator,” Carnicelli said. “I gave my self the same name she gave me in this play, so I thought I would do a call back to this character.”
He started as an actor with Fairy Tales in the Park about 23 years ago.
“Two years into it, I started writing the plays,” he said. “I’m up to about 33 of them that I write direct, produce and star in them.”
The group permits through the Oxnard Parks and Recreation Department, he said, and they know the troupe well.
“This particular park, they know us very well,” she said. “They put up banners and signs on the street. They are nice.”
He loves having fun with the kids while he’s on stage and the look on a child’s face is a big payoff.
“It’s a blast,” Carnicelli said about performing Chicken Little. “Seeing the kids laugh and their faces light up, that’s the reward, right there.”
Aluisi (Rumpelstiltskin) said Csellak asked him to be in the show and he loved the idea.
“I got started (with theater) because of a flyer that I didn’t read right,” he said.
The flyer said, “High School Musical” and he was into that movie at the time.
“I went, and they were passing out scripts, and I thought what’s this,” he said. “When they passed out the scripts, I thought I would have much fun with it.”
Csellak said her old high school had a giant group hug for the new theater students.
“We call it devirginization, but we don’t tell them what it will be,” she said. “We scare the heck out of them until it’s performance night and say random things like bring a helmet.”
She said they ask the youngsters to stand together in a group.
“Then we just hug them,” she said.
King Matthew, Andrew Chacon, said that Gibson asked him to play the king in the show.
“I said, I can do that,” he said. “The subtitle for the character is the gullible king, and I am pretty gullible so that I can do that.”
He has a different approach to develop his character.
“I look at the lines, and when I memorize them, I think of what the main traits of the character are and how do you say these lines to sell that character and believe what he is saying. Even if he’s lying, he believes it enough to say it.”
In comments after the show, Carina McVeigh said the show was much fun.
“I was in a couple of them last year,” she said, “Vivian Gibson is my best friend. I am here to support her, and she did an awesome job.”
She hopes to get back in action again soon but thought all the thespians did well.
“This is a great cast,” she said. “I don’t think I would have added to it.”
Kalynn Minster and Sophia Ornelas enjoyed meeting Louisa after the show.
“I liked when she (Brianna) got her baby back,” Kalynn said.
Sophia agreed that getting the baby away from the troll was the best part of the show.
The Gypsies in a Trunk will return to the park in Sept.
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