ABOVE: Sam Beck, computer science junior, and William Wade, SC alum, embark on their characters journey in “Over the Garden Wall.” The two portray a set of brothers in this production. (Photos courtesy SC Theater Department)

By Scott Olney
Staff reporter

The Southwestern College theatre department is hard at work in their last week of rehearsals for their first show of the season, “Over the Garden Wall.” This production is an adaption of the popular animated series by the same name.

The production features the talents of many Southwestern theatre students and alumni including Sam Beck, computer science junior, as Greg and his brother Wirt played by William Wade, SC alum. The brothers are led by a magical talking bird played by Jennifer Warren, musical theatre freshman and Winfield native. The story fits the Halloween spirit as Wirt and Greg take a journey into a mysterious forest called the Unknown and they are met by a series of even more mysterious characters such as talking animals and evil spirits. Moreover, the story reaches out to a wide variety of audiences who enjoy fantasy with a storybook nostalgia.

The unique part about this production though is that it was adapted for the stage by Aidan Wells, piano performance junior and Ryan Pangracs, musical theatre sophomore. Pangracs worked to adapt the script for the stage while Wells was in charge of expanding upon and arranging the musical score.

“Aidan and I both had our own separate realizations that this piece would make an incredible stage adaption and when we mentioned that we both thought this, the whole thing became a passion project for the both of us,” said Pangracs.

Dozens of students have been hard at work designing the technical aspects of the show including Scarlet Green, musical theatre sophomore, as the paint charge. Green was responsible for bringing the forest and the garden wall itself to life. Jack Warring, musical theatre junior, as the lighting designer was responsible for creating a mysterious mood of the show with light.

“This was a golden opportunity for me to work on a composition and orchestration that could be used outside of just the music department,” said Wells. “Each checkpoint that we hit along the way just inspired us to keep developing the idea and making it a reality.”

Audience members watch Ryan Pangracs' and Aidan Wells Filbert's adaptation of over the wall. The original cartoon was created by Patrick McHale. (Cale Eirich/Staff photographer)
Sam Beck, computer science junior, and William Wade, SC alum, discuss their journey as they try to find their way home. Wade and Beck played two half-brothers traveling through a stranger forest. (Cale Eirich/Staff photographer)
Greg secretly talks to Beatrice, a bluebird played by Jennifer Warren, behind a tree as Wirt watches on curiously. Beatrice traveled with the two boys throughout their journey. (Cale Eirich/Staff photographer)
Beatrice joins Greg and Wirt as they attempt to find their way through the forest. Beatrice joined the two brothers to find the woman that could undo her curse. (Cale Eirich/Staff photographer)
Greg, Wirt and Beatrice are surrounded by the residents of Pottsfield. The natives of Pottsfield put the two boys and the bluebird on trial. (Cale Eirich/Staff photographer)
Greg, Wirt and Beatrice perform their manual labor after their trial in Pottsfield. The original cartoon aired on Cartoon Network in 2014. (Cale Eirich/Staff photographer)
The three get ready to leave the town of Pottsfield and continue their journey home. The cartoon 'Over the Garden Wall' won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 2015

Wells role in this adaption included using musical themes from the original show and expanding upon them in order to make the show a genuine musical. His work includes aspects of composition, arrangement, orchestration.

“Our adaption is an attempt to keep the heart and intention of the story while rearranging the piece to make it work in a more palatable way,” said Pangracs. “I am really excited to see the visual aspects be put on stage. Since it is such a stylized cartoon, I think it will work really well for the stage”

Over the Garden Wall opens in Richardson Performing Arts Center on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and can be seen again on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and the show closes on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Scott Olney is a senior majoring in liberal arts. You may email him at scott.olney@sckans.edu.