'The Selfish Giant' set to entertain and educate young and old

Published: Sunday, May 25 2014 6:25 p.m. MDT

In the production of "The Selfish Giant" at Brigham Young University, a giant puppet created by Nat Reed (voiced by David Morgan) towers above puppet children and puppeteers.

Jaren Wilkey, BYU

Enlarge photo»

PROVO — For nearly eight years, Jennifer and Nat Reed have talked about the possibilities that would come with putting "The Selfish Giant" story on stage.

Now, those ideas are taking form.

The Reeds are co-directing the classic story at the Pardoe Theatre in the Harris Fine Arts Center at BYU, sponsored by the department of theatre and media arts.

Nat Reed has built unique puppets of many sizes and varieties to represent the North Wind, the Hail, the Snow, the Fog and the Cornish Ogre. Jennifer is directing a cast that includes puppeteers, puppet children, real children and voice actors.

"We both love this story. We thought it really lent itself to this show, so a couple of years ago we pitched it to the department, and here we are," Jennifer Reed said. "It's all about change, redemption and love, like the Savior's love for us, which is a lot of what we're about here (at BYU)."

The show was cast in October so students at the university could help create the puppets with Nat Reed, who teaches puppetry.

Many of the cast members had to master the art of walking on stilts for the show, and seven students had to learn to work together to bring the giant puppet to life.

The Reeds are pleased with the 12-foot puppet of the giant, the voice of which will be performed by BYU faculty member and seasoned actor David Morgan.

During the show's run, he'll be making some guest appearances at the Orem Children's Library and Barnes and Noble bookstore.

In addition to the puppetry, the show includes fantastical makeup and projected animation, Jennifer Reed said.

"It's definitely a family show designed for children ages 4 and up," she said. "We've had a lot of fun investing in this."

She suggests parents check out the book or download it and read it with their children before they come to the play.

The plot follows a giant who is initially unwilling to share his lovely garden with children but finds he is happier when he decides to welcome the children into his heart and garden.

The story, written by Oscar Wilde and first published in 1888, has been a favorite for generations and was adapted for the BYU stage by Teresa Dayley Love.

For those interested in a more in-depth experience, there are "Playing With Performance" lunch-and-learn workshops scheduled prior to the matinees on June 5, 7, 13 and 24. There will also be post-show discussions with the cast following the evening shows on June 5 and June 12.

If you go ...

What: "The Selfish Giant"

Where: Pardoe Theatre, Harris Fine Arts Center, BYU

When: May 30-June 14 at 7 p.m.; matinees June 5, 7, 13 and 14 at 2 p.m.

Cost: $12, matinees $6, with discounts available for students, seniors and BYU employees and alumni

Website: arts.byu.edu/events/2711

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com

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