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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:10:03 06:38:47

EMMA BLACK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Amanda Hunisch-Hall, assistant choreographer, will play Jack Skellington.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:10:03 07:06:27

EMMA BLACK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The dance ensemble rehearses at the Phoenix Performing Arts Centre in Duryea.

If you have ever dreamed of stepping into the fictional world of Halloween Town from the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” now is your chance.

Audience members are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes to Phoenix Performing Arts Centre’s rendition of the popular classic tale, scheduled for Oct. 18-20 and 25-27 at 409 Main St., Duryea. Shows are at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Lee LaChette, director and choreographer, says anyone who comes to the show wearing a costume will have the opportunity to take photos with the cast afterward.

“It will make them feel [like they are] part of it,” said LaChette.

She said there will also be goodie bags filled with candy for those who come in costume.

“Little kids love to dress up,” she added.

Twenty-four cast members between the ages 7 and 20 have been working hard since early September at rehearsals four times a week in order to be ready for opening weekend.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” features Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, who ends up in Christmas Town after going through a portal. Jack then makes it his mission to celebrate Christmas with the citizens of Halloween Town. Chaos arises, as he and the townsfolk try to take over the holiday.

“Most of the same story is there and very recognizable with the dances and movements and what is happening,” said LaChette.

LaChette will be assisted by Amanda Hunisch-Hall, who will serve as the assistant choreographer. Hunisch-Hall will also perform as Jack Skellington.

LaChette is happy to incorporate input from the cast as well.

“The kids say, ‘hey can we do this?’ and I say, ‘knock yourself out,’ as long as it isn’t too far-fetched. It’s a real team effort,” she said.

LaChette is impressed by the cast’s hard work. The kids wow her with their determination to perfect the moves, and they picked up on the steps quickly.

“The cast has just had so much fun putting something together no one else has and stepping outside the box,” she said. “We encourage them to use their mind, body, movement and facial expression to create something unique.”

They also put a lot of effort into developing strong, fun characters.

And they are all team players.

LaChette said everyone works well together, and they make an amazing team. They all give their best effort, and that makes it an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Sarah Neel, 19, of Wyoming, is portraying Sally.

“I like to dance here,” Neel said. “My favorite part is coming and seeing everyone and dancing with everyone.”

The performance will show off the kids’ creativity in many ways. Cast members were asked to create their own costumes for the show. They looked to the characters in the movie for inspiration, but their costumes had to be conducive to dancing.

In addition to the cast, the show’s crew includes kids who are contributing to the set design and lighting and in the tech booth.

Sandra Kiriakoy, 11, of Exeter, has two more reasons the show is a must-see.

“It’s cool,” said the ensemble member.

Referring to the spooky, handmade set, she added, “we didn’t do all this painting for nothing.”

If you go

What: Phoenix kids and teens present “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

When: Oct. 18-20 and 25-27; Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7 p.m. and Sunday Matinees at 2 p.m.

Where: Phoenix Performing Arts Centre, 409 Main St., Duryea

Tickets: $10 general admission and $5 for children 5 and under, available by calling 570-457-3589 or at the door.

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