For actor Bobby Gamez, his latest role has posed something of a challenge.
"This is the first time I have not been able to use my arms and legs," he said. "I still get to dance and move around, but you can only do so many things with your shoulders and head."
Gamez, a New York City-based actor, plays Worrying Worm in the Omaha Theater Company production of "Diary of a Worm, a Spider and a Fly," based on the bestselling books of Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss. The show makes a stop at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport on Sunday, March 9, for two performances.
Gamez makes his way about the stage by inching forward slowly, with tiny steps, but his message he and the five other cast members convey is a big one.
"The overlying theme is that everyone is good at something," he said, even if that talent is not one at which one is expected to excel. "Be yourself and be true to yourself."
As all three creatures make their way through their days, in dialogue and song, they begin to discover their own special talent. They also realize they are not unique in facing challenges or resolving problems.
"The fly wants to be a superhero," said Melissa Victor, who plays Fearless Fly in the production. In the end, though, she said the fly learns that having super talents also means recognizing the importance of teamwork.
Victor, who is originally from Baltimore, said she too had to learn some new skills to prepare for the role. To replicate the idea of flying, she dons a pair of roller shoes for each performance.
"It can be a challenge," she said, rolling over the many stages that have hosted this production. "And, there is a lot of singing and dancing ... this is a high-energy show."
Victor, who has been in musical theater her "entire life," said this is her first role in children's theater, and said she loves all the interaction with the audience. "We've had some great audiences."
Ryan Heidenreich, who plays Sassy Spider, said he thinks a major part of the allure, at least for younger audiences, is the story's central theme that even if you are small, feel "underfoot" or think you are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, you have an important role and you are thoroughly unique.
"When the kids see the set ... everything looks bigger," he said. "We have a gigantic milk carton, a giant soda can, a large fly swatter, so even at the beginning of the show, right away they come away with the feeling of being in the life of a bug."
The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Heidenreich said from the first song, the story is really about reminding the children in the audience, and adults too, that each person, or perhaps, bug, has its own purpose in life and it is important to not feel left out or think one's talent is not as worthy as another.
All those lessons, of course, are delivered with plenty of hops, wiggles and squirms. Read Full Article
For Gamez, he said he enjoys the fact that the musical brings all the characters together -- the book series gives each character its own book and story.
"Instead of having to root for a certain character, you can root for all of them," he said.
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Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport. Sunday, March 9, 1 and 4 p.m. (recommended for 4 and older) $20. Each show will be preceded by an hour of activities at 12 and 3 p.m. 203-227-4177, www.westportplayhouse.org.