BELFAST — Belfast Maskers closes out its 2023 season with the magical adventure "The Storm in the Barn", adapted for the stage by Eric Coble from the graphic novel by Matt Phelan. This play is set to open with a Preview Night performance on Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Basil Burwell Community Theater, 17 Court Street in Belfast.
“The Storm in the Barn promises to transport audiences into a world of enchantment and intrigue, weaving together historical fiction and fantasy to create a spellbinding tale that will captivate audiences of all ages,” said Belfast Maskers, in a news release.
Set in the reality of the Kansas Dust Bowl in 1937, "The Storm in the Barn" is about a boy named Jack and his family's struggles to survive the drought and keep their farm. Bullied by the bigger boys, faced with danger and fear all around him, Jack doesn't dare to fight back. When he discovers a strange and terrible mystery in the barn next door, will he be able to find the strength to save his family—or the World?
“The show benefits from the expert direction of Meg Nickerson, a seasoned director with a keen artistic vision and commitment to bringing stories to life on the stage,” said Maskers.
An important aspect of this show, according to Nickerson, is how relevant it is to this time. It's not really a play about the Dust Bowl, though that is the setting. It's a play about a horrible, man-made, ecological disaster—the kind of thing we may be dealing with now. And it's about kids not knowing where they fit in in the World. 'How can I help? I'm so little; how can I possibly do anything?'—and that's what Jack has to face.
A special highlight of this production is the incorporation of live music, featuring songs written by Black Prairie specifically for the show, according to Maskers. Local performers create a musical ambiance to elevate the audience experience, adding a dynamic and immersive layer to this already compelling production.
"The music is very important to this show,” said Nickerson. “It reinforces the themes and moves the story forward.”
Nickerson cast people in the show that are also playing instruments—and vice versa. Musicians in the band are also integrated in the action of the play, performing as townspeople and characters. For example, Jeff Edwards plays Ernie the shopkeeper as well as adding to the musical milieu with banjo, autoharp, and percussion.
"This music is beautiful, nuanced, and moving,” said Edwards. “This show has some distinctly different moods and this music creates an undercurrent that solidifies those moods and the message of the show.”
Edwards also felt that the message of the show was crucially important and timely.
"It has this great theme of finding courage...bringing forth that courage that's needed to face all manner of frightening things,” he said. “My character tries to help Jack find that courage within himself through telling heroic stories."
“The Belfast Maskers take pride in showcasing local talent, and this production is no exception,” said Maskers. “The cast, crew, and musicians involved in The Storm in the Barn represent the rich artistic tapestry of Belfast, embodying the community spirit that Belfast Maskers holds dear.”
"We have several families—including multiple generations of families—working together on this show," said Nickerson. "They're all working together, onstage and off, to bring this tale to life, from age six to age eighty!"
Theater-goers can immerse themselves in the story, beginning on November 30 with a $10 Preview Night performance at 7 p.m. Following that, the run will continue through December 10, with shows Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
General admission tickets are $18 with a $3 discount for students and seniors. There is a 15% discount for groups of six or more when purchased online at http://BelfastMaskers.com/storm