Photos provided by PA Youth Theatre
I didn’t eat my mom’s corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day this year, but I did have the privilege of attending the Pennsylvania Youth Theatre’s The Hobbit at the Charles A. Brown Ice House in Bethlehem. If you’re not familiar with the J. R. R. Tolkien classic novel, it follows the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who is persuaded by an old wizard named Gandalf to embark on a journey with 12 dwarfs set on recovering their treasure from the evil dragon, Smaug.
Baggins, who for this show was played by talented 5th-grader Alex Vogelgesang, is supposed to be the “burglar” of the group, but would rather hide in his cozy hole in the ground. He faces dark creatures such as the cave-dweller Gollum, as well as his own insecurities, in order to do a great service for all of the inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom.
As soon as I walked into the theater, the tall trees and muted stage lighting immediately set the mood for what was to come. Things only got better from there as the young performers, who were aged six to 17, came out and showed their stuff with confidence and professionalism. I was amazed as long stretches of dialogue were delivered without a hitch, and the staging seemed natural for the performers. One of my favorite parts was when Gollum came out on all fours in a black bodysuit wrapped in vines and was creepy enough to make every audience member feel for poor Bilbo.
Although the performance was geared toward a younger crowd, I enjoyed it just as much as any kid in the audience; if there was a dropped line or two I was having too much fun to notice. The much-loved book was an adventurous undertaking, but the cast and crew undoubtedly pulled it off with talent and what I presume was a whole lot of hard work. Being a former theater performer myself, I can appreciate how many hours the performers, stage crew and technicians must have gone through to make the show look as flawless as it did. Another great job, PYT!