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‘Way Back’ should be up front





Parents, your prayers have been answered. There really is an entertaining, engaging alternative to watching "The Lion King" one more time. And you won't even be napping through it.


Called "Way Back When a Musical Fairy Tale," the production by the Laity Theatre Company is a real sleeper. Those few theatergoers sufficiently in the know to see it in its opening weekend were treated to a sensational original work, full of good-humored comedy, singing dancing and contemporary music.


The story involves two neighboring medieval kingdoms, once united but split by a long-standing feud between the two brothers who rule them:  Neilio (Brian Elias) and Beckus (John Leighton). Further complicating matters is Queen Aluis (Phylliss Bailey) Beckus' scheming wife, whose amorous attentions have shall we say strayed. Then there is a Romeo and Juliet-type romance between a prince of Neilio, Aaron (Ian Talbot), and a Beckus commoner Jess (Marcie Quin).


James A. Goins, executive director of the theater group, can only be described as a creative powerhouse. He has written the story, the music and lyrics; helped design  the set and lighting effects; and probably performed all the (pre-recorded)  instrumental music, as well as running the lights and sound system during shows.


He is assisted by an extremely talented and undoubtedly all-volunteer casts, who not only sing, dance and act, but also work the crowd like stand-up comics. In fact, it's hard to say enough good things about this show. It's chock-full of witty dialogue and visual sight gags, yet contains profound human emotion as well.



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