The Creswell Chronicle -

By Erin Tierney
The Creswell Chronicle 

The Opal Center for Arts and Education presents: 'The King Who Wanted a Whale'


March 8, 2018

Matthew Hewlett/Hewlett Artistry

"The King Who Wanted a Whale" cast members at Opal Center for Arts & Education.

If you need a dose or two of the fantastical and whimsical to liven up your evening, let me direct you to The Opal Center at 513 E. Main St. in Cottage Grove to feast your eyes upon "The King Who Wanted a Whale," by Hal Holbrook.

This musical production, based on a children's book of the same name, runs until Sunday, March 11, but the imagery, music and talent of the cast will continue to stimulate your imagination long afterwards.

This children's tale - directed by Earl Ruttencutter, with the stage play by Keith Kessler and with music by Holbrook - tells the story of the King Ram (Paul von Rotz) who has a grandiose idea to bring a whale from the ocean to occupy the moat around his castle.

No idea is too big for the King Ram, as he knows his troop of players, crafty and wise, can accomplish any task they're given. But how in the world can the Royal Whale Fetching Council produce a whale and bring it alive to the castle? With help from the Messenger Rabbit Boy (Mia Wieckowska), the Royal Whale Fetching Council just may be able to pull this one off.

The King Ram calls upon help from his council - the Royal Chef Bear (Dale Flynn) to problem-solve the issue of keeping the moat salty enough for a happy whale to reside; his Royal Merchant Mariner Gator (John Vaughan Lemhouse) to figure out logistics in transporting the whale from sea to castle; his Royal Chief Engineer Iguana (Elaine Slatore) to concoct the algorithms for the plan; and his Royal Chief Steward Pelican (Betsy Smith) to keep a plan moving forward.

Though this is a whale of a problem, the King Ram believes in his council's wits, smarts and skills to accomplish anything they set their mind to - even if they have to get a little creative sometimes.

This is a tale of appreciation for those around you, and a tale of believing nothing is impossible. Couple that with young actresses in homemade costumes like cheetah June Smith, porcupine Eliana Piltz-Craftsman, and squirrel Pearl Powell, just to name a few, and you've got a visually enjoyable piece to boot.

Von Rotz plays an exceptional Ram King and left me in stitches throughout his performance. His exuberant mannerisms caught me off-guard - but in a good way - and his lively energy could be felt throughout the entire production.

Wieckowska played the young-but-wise Messenger Rabbit Boy. Her energy was comparable to von Rotz's, and she's got a set of pipes that absolutely stole the show during the second act in her performance of "Sailing with the King." Her vocal performance, paired with her acting abilities, makes for a true up-and-coming star.

You can catch this production of "The King Who Wanted a Whale," by Hal Holbrook at the Opal Center until March 11. Visit or call 541-623-0513 for more information.


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