Camelot and Camelittle

Connor Besemer (from left) of Gilbert as Mordred, Kassandra Diaz of Mesa as Morgana Le Fay and Olivia VanSlyke of Mesa as Ruth star in the East Valley Children’s Theatre’s “Camelot and Camelittle.”

The power of a spunky little girl is not be underestimated, for it can take her to great heights and make her detractors appear foolish.

A determined girl’s journey chronicled as “Camelot and Camelittle” unfolds in this East Valley Children’s Theater production’s 10-day run through Feb. 24 at Mesa Arts Center.

This is the world premiere of an original work by Stacey Lane of Chicago, winner of the annual playwriting contest sponsored by the East Valley Children’s Theatre.

Playwrights from around the country and internationally submit original manuscripts for consideration to be produced by East Valley Children’s Theatre.

“We are a founding resident company at Mesa Arts Center. We’ve been there since it opened,” said EVCT’s Kathie McMahon. “We do four productions there every year.

“This production is funded through a community grant from the city of Mesa. We do an original show every year and that one is always funded by Mesa. We’re also funded through individual donations and grants from foundations and city grants. We do have some business sponsorships, as well.”

The cast of “Camelot and Camelittle” features more than 30 youths, ages 8 to 18, from across the East Valley in the play directed by Joel Cranson.

“We have open audition for every show, so these young actors come in at all levels of experience,” McMahon said. “We offer camps and classes, as well. Some start out there.

“So it just depends on what the director is looking for as to if they are cast.”

In “Camelot and Camelittle,” a spunky little girl, Ruth, who is played by Olivia VanSlyke of Mesa, has one dream: to become a Knight of the Round Table.

King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Sir Lancelot and other heroes laugh at her when she demonstrates her skills by pretend-fighting a lizard dressed up like a dragon.

Rejected, Ruth gathers a group of unappreciated misfits and leaves Camelot to start her own perfect queendom. Along the way, the power of a determined young girl and her sidekicks is on display. Among them is Lizard, played by Tre Moore of Mesa, whom Ruth dresses as a dragon.

“Tre has done 12 or 13 productions with us, so he’s very experienced,” McMahon said. “Olivia is young. She’s just done a couple.”

East Valley Children’s Theatre is an award-winning theater in its 22nd year of presenting classic children’s stories and fairytales for children and their families. EVCT requires at least a $50 donation to the theater for any participant in its main-stage productions.

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