COEUR d'ALENE - Intensely hued, high-spirited and at times, fierce, the mythical creatures featured in "Nine Dragons" return to the Lake City High School stage this week.
Troupe de Wolfe Productions brings George Herman's contemporary fable to life under the direction of theater arts teacher Sandra Seaton.
"This is a story of men and dragons," says Grace Warnick, a first-year high school student in the role of the Wind, the play's storyteller.
It is also a tale of a war that did not have to be, she says, gliding about the stage.
Set in a mythical Asian locale, the play focuses on the plight of the people of two villages, Makai and Wongsu, separated by a mountain. The rocky terrain and its caves, believed to be inhabited by terrifying dragons, creates a demarcation line so great that for years, neither tribe realizes the other exists.
Then, a drought comes, and the villagers realize they are competing for resources, so they prepare to go to war.
"Nine Dragons" tells the story of how the dragons that inhabit the mountain show the humans how to live in peace.
Senior Easton Townsend, 18, plays Pu'Lao, "the watcher," one of the more frightening-looking dragon characters. Townsend, a seasoned Troupe de Wolfe actor, said that's what he enjoys about the role.
"I'm not really the scary guy. It's fun," Townsend said.
The show combines the visual elements of traditional Chinese opera with a hint of Japanese Kabuki.
The action on stage is accompanied by original music by Avery Strobel, a senior.
"It sounds Chinese-esque, but it's really Avery's brilliance," Seaton said.
Strobel plays the mandolin, tin whistle and the pungi, the instrument used by snake charmers in India, with percussive assistance from Kat Cheevers.
He was able to use musical knowledge he gained a year ago, he said, when Troupe de Wolfe performed "Amazing Adventures of the Marvelous Monkey King," based on an ancient Chinese legend.
"I learned different scales to use. It's a different Far Eastern style," Strobel said.
This is the fourth time Lake City High School thespians have staged "Nine Dragons," a play with personal connections to the school and its drama teacher. The play was translated in 2003 into an illustrated children's story and published internationally. Kit Seaton, a 2000 Lake City graduate and the daughter of Sandra Seaton, illustrated the book by playwright George Herman.
Kit Seaton's artistic take on the story is evident in this year's production of "Nine Dragons." The costumes and makeup are based on the younger Seaton's original designs.
The play is billed as "an inspirational tale about overcoming mistrust and misunderstanding to achieve peace. This story will appeal to children of all ages who love dragons."
The play runs Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. in the Lake City High School Auditorium. There is also an after school special showing at 4 p.m. Friday.
Tickets are $4 general admission and $3 for Lake City ASB holders, children 12 and younger and seniors 65 and older. Tickets are available at the door, 45 minutes before each performance, or in advance in the school's main office.