LimeLight Theatre shows a different side of Shel Silverstein with FestivALL play

CHIP ELLIS | Gazette Dennis Strom, who co-founded the LimeLight Theatre Company with his wife Kelly, will sing songs written by Shel Silverstein in the group's program, "An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein," which highlights some of the beloved children's authors more mature work.

Most people know Shel Silverstein as the author of beloved children’s books like “The Giving Tree” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” but he also wrote for more mature audiences.

This weekend, the LimeLight Theatre Company will bring to life some of his adult material in the free FestivALL event “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein.” The production mixes six vignettes, chosen from a compilation Silverstein wrote, with well-known songs he penned. It’s described on FestivALL’s website as a “tour through the darkly comic adult world of Shel Silverstein” that is “hilarious, grotesque, wrong and yet so very right!”

“It’s a lot of play on words and looking at things from different angles,” said artistic director and company co-founder Kelly Strom. “It’s dark, twisted and unexpected.”

“There were a few pieces in the original that we chose not to do because they were really dark and twisted,” she added.

“We cut a written-in nude scene,” noted her husband, Dennis, who is LimeLight’s other co-founder and its technical director.

In this show, he also sings. He’ll perform four hits by Silverstein: Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” and Dr. Hook’s “The Cover of Rolling Stone,” “I Got Stoned and I Missed It” and “Sylvia’s Mother.”

Kelly promised a fun time for audience members.

“You definitely would not want children there because it’s just full of things you’re not going to want to say in front of your child,” she said. “But if you’re an adult, it’s going to be hysterical.”

Dennis added, “We just wanted something fun for adults for FestivALL. There are things for children going on all day. We thought this would be a change of pace for people.”

He also noted that the show is a fitting one for LimeLight because just as Silverstein had dual personas, so does the company.

“Shel Silverstein was enigmatic in that he had his definite children’s persona and his adult persona, and he didn’t have trouble clearly defining them. We, as a theater company, have been perceived as a children’s-type theater. We haven’t done as many children’s shows, but we work with so many children. However, we can clearly define what we consider adult and what’s appropriate for children.”

LimeLight most recently staged the family-friendly play “The Three Musketeers,” but the show before that was the decidedly adult “A Streetcar Named Desire.” After this adult FestivALL production, the Stroms will turn their attention to their three-week summer acting intensive for children and teens, Camp Curtain Call.

Though the company is only in its third year, the Stroms have a long history with community theater. They have worked with most of the local troupes since 1992.

“A lot of theater companies are closing their doors,” Dennis said. “That’s the reason why we formed the company. This is what we do; we’re theater people. When you don’t have a place to work, you have to create your own niche.”

That’s what they have done, and recently, they also found their own warehouse space. As they get it into working order, they will have a modified upcoming season with two mainstage productions — “Greater Tuna” and “The Lion in Winter.”

The following season, they’ll add two musicals and a Christmas show.

“We’ll come back with a bang,” Kelly said.

Reach Amy Robinson at or 304-348-4881.

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