Shortly after she auditioned for Harry Connick Jr.’s “The Happy Elf,” 8-year-old Geanna Kirchner explained why she’d love to sing in the holiday musical at the Scranton Cultural Center.
“This is my favorite play place,” said the Dunmore girl, who has seen performances of “The Addams Family” and “Peter Pan” in the grand old building, as well as a kid show called “Bunnicula” starring a bunny that was a little bit like a vampire.
“I noticed the bunny was really a puppet,” Geanna said. “Because it was always on somebody’s arm.”
“Of course it was a puppet! They’re not going to have a real rabbit that could really bite people,” her friend Donovan Mozgo, also 8, of Scranton, pointed out before he strode off for his audition.
“Good luck, Donovan!” Geanna called after him.
One by one, Geanna, Donovan and several other children took a turn standing on a red X on the Cultural Center stage, close enough that music director Sheri Melcher could hear them sing without a microphone while she accompanied them on a grand piano.
The youngsters came in clutching sheet music of their choice — songs ranging from “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” from “The Lion King” to “Happiness” from “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” to the classic “Jingle Bells.”
“We’re looking at how they can carry a tune, how comfortable they are on stage,” production manager Dawn McGurl explained. “We’re not looking for perfection.”
“The Happy Elf” tells the story of a somber little place called Bluesville that hardly ever sees the sun and seems to have more than its share of naughty children. An elf named Eubie will try to remedy that situation any way he can.
More than 100 people, ages kindergarten through adult, can be used in the show, which will be double cast.
“I’m just going to try my hardest,” 10-year-old Evan Skovronsky of Tunkhannock said out in the lobby, before he went in to sing “Friend Like Me” from “Aladdin.”
“Whatever happens, happens,” his mom, Shawn Skovronsky, reminded him. “We talked about not being disappointed.”
More auditions are scheduled for later this month and potential cast members will find out by early September if they’ve been “called back.”
If they become part of the cast, McGurl said, people can expect to attend two or three rehearsals a week.
No strangers to the whirlwind of rehearsals and practices of all sorts, Bill and Ann Conway of Dunmore brought two of their six daughters — 8-year-old Mary Ellen and 11-year-old Bridgette — along with the girls’ friend Leila Moran, 10, to audition earlier this week.
“Bridgette is one of a set of triplets,” said Ann Conway, shaking her head good-naturedly while she considered her role as chauffeur. “One of them is into ballet and drawing; one is into soccer, and this is her thing. Bridgette is into singing and acting.”
What do the parents hope the children will get out of this chance to be part of a show?
“Whatever makes them happy,” Bill Conway said.