When Michael and Deborah Jaenicke returned to North Carolina last year, the North Carolina Children’s Theatre wasn’t something they had anticipated coming into their lives.
“My husband actually talked me into it,” said Deborah Jaenicke, North Carolina Children’s Theatre creative director. “I’d had a theatre school and a touring company in Rhode Island and when I decided I was going to move back down here, (I) had just finished two movies.”
They are in post production right now and Jaenicke just got notification that one of them is going to go to all the film festivals.
“When I moved down I thought, I don’t know (to run a children’s theater), and he said ‘Look — you are so good with children. You love the theatre so much.’ And I said okay,” Jaenecke laughingly explained. “The second I started I knew. This is my passion.”
And it has been her passion and her husband Michael’s enthusiasm that have delivered productions like The Wizard of Oz last fall, which drew 1,100 people.
April 17-18, the North Carolina Children’s Theatre will perform Oliver Twist, based on Charles Dickens book of the same name. Don’t come expecting to see a cutesy pie event though. That is the last thing either Jaenicke wants. Deborah has spent hours and hours bringing the realities of industrial England to the young actors. Their training included learning to speak with a Cockney accent, reading the novel Oliver Twist,
“I didnt want to do children’s theatre that they (the audience) went ‘Oh,aren’t they cute.’ I wanted to do something that had quality and substance to it and that the children had to strive to be better than ‘oh, aren’t they cute,’” said Jaenicke. “I wanted them to learn to be talented and even if they didn’t have the capability to sing or to dance that they had to strive to be in the companies when we did shows.”
The production boasts a cast of 40 with an array of performers including New York trained performers, local actors and students from Robeson, Bladen and Cumberland Counties. “Our cast is outstanding. They are just tremendous,” said Executive Producer Michael Jaenicke. “It’s going to be so good.”
The production will take place at Lu Mil Vineyard in Dublin. The show starts at 7 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for those 12 and under.
For more information or tickets, call (910) 866-5819 or visit www.lumilvineyard.com.