“The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams is one of the most beloved children's stories ever written and Ozark Actors Theatre lovingly presents this heartwarming story as its holiday offering.

“The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams is one of the most beloved children’s stories ever written and Ozark Actors Theatre lovingly presents this heartwarming story as its holiday offering.
My advice is to purchase your tickets early as this splendid production will sell out quickly. I will also advise you to make this a family outing as this production has something for theater-goers of all ages.
Adapted from the book by Anita Larsen with music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur, this classic tale is about a young boy who is given a stuffed, velveteen rabbit for Christmas. But like most children, he is enamored by his many other Christmas gifts and hardly gives the stuffed rabbit any notice — until one night when his Nana puts him to bed and he is given the velveteen rabbit as a replacement for another lost toy.
The little rabbit quickly becomes the boy’s best friend and favorite toy. The boy takes her everywhere. In time, the little stuffed rabbit becomes worn and tattered but the boy loves her and considers her to be real.
When the boy is stricken with scarlet fever, the stuffed rabbit is placed in the boy’s bed to comfort him. One day the doctor orders the boy’s mother and uncle to take the boy to the seacoast for recovery and to burn the boy’s bedding along with all the books and toys as these may have become contaminated.
The toys are soon all gathered up, including the velveteen rabbit, put into a bag and placed outside to await burning. The toy rabbit is overcome with grief and begins to cry.
When a tear from the little, stuffed rabbit falls to the ground, a beautiful fairy appears and tells the velveteen rabbit that she can turn her into a real rabbit. With a magic wave from the fairy, the little rabbit becomes real and is accepted by the other rabbits in the garden.
When spring comes, the little rabbit returns to the little boy’s house and the little boy thinks he recognizes her as his beloved toy.
As stated, Ozark Actors Theatre does a wonderful job in its production which will run Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 14-15, and Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 19-22, at the Cedar Street Playhouse at 701 N. Cedar St., Rolla.
Directed by Laurie McConnell with musical direction by Jeff Williams, this is the perfect holiday offering.  
There are many adult actors in the production including Faith Koenig (Nana), Steve Skelton (Uncle Brad), Clara-Marie Tupper (Mother), Brendan Boggs (Timothy Spirit), Tessa Luechtefeld (Model Boat Spirit), Kat Conaway (Train Spirit), Nick Schaeffler (Skin Horse Spirit) and John Craig (Peavy and Doctor.)
They all do a wonderful job catching the imagination of the audience. I especially enjoyed the scenes between Schaeffler and Ella Schrader (Velveteen Rabbit). The moments between them are sweet, tender and moving.
While there are cast members from ages 5 to 75, the very best thing about this production are the children. Led by Caiti Townley (Nursery Magic Fairy), Dakota Townley (Andrew the Boy) and Ella Schrader (Spirit of the Velveteen Rabbit), this group of young actors does an outstanding job.
Caiti and Dakota Townley and Schrader are a pleasure to watch. Each have strong singing voices, well developed characters and the ability to capture the audience and draw them into the story.
It is reassuring to know that the children in the area are being given the opportunity to participate in theater. It is the only way to ensure that theater will continue to thrive in our community.
I remember another young actor named Taylor Louderman who played the title role in OAT’s “Annie,” who has gone on to Broadway (“Bring it On”) and network television (“Peter Pan Live”).
I feel sure that we will see these young actors grow up and continue to participate in local theater, and perhaps we will see them on the Broadway stage someday. The important thing is they have learned about the joy theater can bring to all involved.
Completing the cast are: Maddie Booher, Nicole Dawes, Marra Luechtefeld, Zachary Phelps and Ella Veo (Tree Spirits) with Mackenzie Townley (Brown Rabbit) and Eve Becker, Lily Conaway, Emily Hounsom, Audrey Smith, Rowan Covert, Violet Skrzycki and Ave Wofford (Wild Rabbits).
The production value of this holiday show is outstanding. With wonderful sets by Emory Cook, lighting by Cris Abbott, sound by Creede McMeans, props by Sylvia Sellers, costumes and makeup by Sabra Sellers, the world of the play is complete and the story unfolds beautifully.
It is important to note that this production is cast with local actors. There are no professional actors in this production. That being said, the performances are, as one audience member said after the dress rehearsal — Awesome!
You can call 573-364-9523 or go to www.ozarkactorstheatre.org to reserve your tickets.
The play is sponsored in part by Kent Jewelry; Investment Realty, Inc.; Town and Country Bank; Williams, Robinson, Rigler and Buschjost; Cindy Beger; Trips and More Travel Agency; and the Missouri Arts Council.