The story of ‘Balto’ returns to the Dietrich Theater stage

First Posted: 10/30/2014

The celebrated story of “Balto: A True Story of the Bravest Dog in America” was brought to the Dietrich Theater stage last year by the Dietrich Children’s Theatre. It was so well received, the same cast and same play will return at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15 with a free performance, sponsored by Toni Hockman.

During this play, audience members will go back in time to the blinding blizzard of 1925 in Nome, Alaska.

An outbreak of disease threatens the children, and the medicine needed is 800 miles away. No one could get through the storm by plane, train, boat or car. It is up to a fearless sled dog named Balto to travel through the blizzard and save the town – if he can get there in time.

What will happen?

All are invited to come find out.

The production was adapted and written for the stage by Laurel Radzieski. In the show, she will play Balto, a fearless and considerate sled dog.

Radzieski will be joined on stage by Rich Ryczak, an accomplished actor in the Dietrich Children’s Theatre troupe and the Dietrich’s Main Stage productions. He performed in “The Mouse’s Marriage,” “Coyote: A Native American Trickster Tale,” and “Peter and the Wolf,” as well as “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Frankenstein.” In Balto, he will play the role of the musher Gunnar Kaasen who is kind and loyal, and often forgetful.

Cast member Brenda Wenner will play Suka, an excitable and energetic sled dog. She previously appeared in the Dietrich Children’s Theatre performance of “The Fairy Wife,” played Nurse Ratched in the Dietrich’s production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and starred in the Dietrich productions of “Auntie Mame” and “Bridegroom of Blowing Rock.”

Balto’s other sled dog friend, Pukiq, will be played by David Swanson. Pukiq is curious and clever and sometimes puts too much thought into things. David appeared in two previous Dietrich Children’s Theatre productions, “The Fairy Wife” and “The Mouse’s Marriage.” He also performed in “The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock,” “The Laramie Project,” “The Grapes of Wrath” and as the Creature in “Frankenstein.”

Jennifer Jenkins is the play’s director. It is one of the many productions she directed for the Dietrich Children’s Theatre and the Dietrich Theater Community Theatre. Jenkins has worked with Steven Sondheim’s Young Playwrights, the Manhattan Theatre Club and the PBS series “Great Performances.”

Reservations can be made by calling 570-996-1500, and tickets are also available at the Dietrich Theater ticket booth.

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