Fantasy tale draws audience into magical world

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Finley Schumacher Sundberg, playing Atreyu, on the back of Falkor in Whitefish Theatre Co.’s production of "The Neverending Story.” (Courtesy of Whitefish Theatre Co.)

The Whitefish Theatre Company is delighted to present the fantastic tale of “The Neverending Story.”

This magical young-actors production opens with a sneak preview night on Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. Performances continue on Feb. 24 and 25 and March 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. Matinée performances are on Feb. 26 and March 5 at 4 p.m.

Adapted from the 1979 novel and 1984 film, “The Neverending Story” is the fantasy tale of a boy whose wholehearted belief in a story, and eventually in himself, saves everything. The story begins with Bastian Balthazar Bux, a lonely boy who stumbles upon a strange book, “The Neverending Story,” in a curious bookshop. Upon opening it, he learns of a land called Fantastica, where a vast, black emptiness, called The Nothing, is taking over the magical world. Quickly drawn into the story of Atreyu, an unlikely hero who has been tasked to save this world, the story’s adventure takes Bastian and a happy luckdragon named Falkor to the far corners of Fantastica, through the Swamp of Sadness, the cave of a giant spider, and the maze of the Southern Oracle. The Seattle Times calls the play “beguiling ... ‘The Neverending Story’ is as much about the power of imagination and friendship as it is about colorful demons and otherworldly locales.”

“As a child of the 80s and a fan of the popular movie version of ‘The Neverending Story’, I am so thrilled to be a part of this wonderfully heart-filled production,” says Director Jesse DeVine. “Whether you are acquainted with the story or not, you can count on plenty of spectacular adventure, complete with Falkor, Morla the turtle, and Artax the horse that have been brilliantly brought to life by Props Maker Jen Stebbins-Han. Cast members Atreyu and Bastian will even be able fly on the back of Falkor due the superb talent of local filmmaker Adam Pitman.”

“That said, the real beauty of the story is being able to believe in the magic of our imagination. ‘The Neverending Story’ shows how everyone can be the hero of a story,” DeVine adds.

WTC has 39 talented young actors in the cast from all over the Flathead Valley, plus local adult actors Matt Ford who plays Bastian’s father and the voice of Falkor and Tony Hernandez who plays the Bookseller. Adam Pitman brings special filmed flying effects to the show, Props Artist Jen Stebbins-Han has built several true-to-life creatures from Fantastica, and costumer Lonnie Porro has created extraordinary one-of-a-kind designs for all the characters.

“The world of Fantastica has truly been created on stage by the technicians and cast of this show,” says DeVine. “The young actors in the cast are brimming with talent and intelligence. Together, they honor the original book and pay tribute to the film, but also put their own original stamp on the play.”

Tickets for the sneak preview on Feb. 23 are $10 and are available only at the door with general seating. Tickets for other performances are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $8 for students with reserved seating. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office at 1 Central Avenue in Whitefish or by calling 862-5371. Box Office Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before a performance. Individual tickets can also be purchased online at www.whitefishtheatreco.org.

This show is sponsored by Glacier Bank. Flathead Electric and Park Side Credit Union are sponsoring the education outreach for this show.

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