Millikin to present “The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks”

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

Making its Millikin debut, “The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks” by Nancy McArthur will be performed in Albert Taylor Theatre this weekend.

Directed by associate professor Denise Myers, this comical tale is about two sisters who share a room, but are in constant conflict. Messy Mikaela and her younger sister, clean and tidy Norma, plant some seed that they received in the mail. The results ended up being two weird, but lovable pet plants that the girls name Stanley and Fluffy. But there aren’t just your ordinary house plants. They develop an increasing appetite for socks and cause chaos at home and at the school science fair. The sisters put aside their bickering and work together to save their plants from being thrown out by Mom and Dad.

Myers was wary about picking this show at first due to the incorporation of puppets. Myers has had no experience with them. So, she asked senior Brian Kocher to co-direct since he does have experience working with them.

“I’ve had this show on my shelf for a long time, but didn’t know how to deal with the puppets,” Myers said. “So I asked Brian to do it with me, and when he said yes, I went ahead and did it. I have learned a lot more about puppets by watching Brain. He’s designed them, directed them and has done all of the choreography with them. He’s done an amazing job with it. My hope is that the show is enjoyable for people because of the puppets. The actors work well with them. I think this show is a good opportunity because of the different kinds of experiences.”

Kocher is excited for the children to enjoy the story and the puppets. He thinks there are bound to be a lot off giggles from the audience. This is his first time co-directing a play and says working with Myers is wonderful and inspirational.

“You can tell in rehearsals that she has personal investment in each student involved,” he said. “She wants to see them grow as artists as well as help produce a top notch play.”

Also co-directing is junior Rachel Reininger. The show’s cast includes Genevieve Breitbach, Megan Bryan, Brandon Januska, Peter Kattner, Ben Locke, Jacque McNaughton, Morgan Oliver, Lauren Rhodes, Alyssa Soto, Katie Szajkovics, Trinity Thomas and Emma Wright.

In the original script, the two leading characters were boys. Due to not having enough male students audition, Myers changed them from brothers to sisters.

“When the girls came in for callbacks, they did perfectly,” she said. “The boys I had were perfect for being puppeteers and other options. It’s interesting to me how changing the gender makes no difference. We only changed pronouns. No change in lines or interests.”

This is the second year in a row that the Golden K (Kiwanis) of Decatur, a service organization that does activities and fundraisers to help support children of Decatur, is co-producing. In addition, this will also be the second year in a row that a sensory-friendly performance will be provided. This kind of performance caters to children who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This tradition was started by Millikin alum, Michael Mulhearn.

Myers has been directing the children’s show for the past 20 years. The reason why she loves to direct them is because she thinks children will be more creative with their imagination.

“I think they are more receptive to using their imagination to work with you than perhaps an adult audience might be,” she said. “If you say these are plants, the kids will agree. They are more willing to use their imaginations with you. This allows me to try something that I think is fun that I might not be able to do with an adult audience.”

There will be a total of four performances – two on Friday and one on Saturday and Sunday. The two Friday performances 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. are special viewings for kindergarteners and first grade students at Dennis Elementary School.

“Learning to work and play for a children’s audience is very receptive and demanding,” Myers said. “They are also going to have to find the energy and focus for two shows in one day. This is an amazing opportunity.”

The public performances held over Fall Family Weekend will be at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for Millikin students and children.

“Even though it’s a children’s show, I think adults and Millikin students will have just as much fun,” Myers said. “I think they will enjoy it very much.”