Tom Saywer takes the stage | ParkRecord.com

Tom Saywer takes the stage

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

For Wendy Gourley, it doesn’t seem all that long ago that she was directing Youtheatre productions at the Egyptian Theatre, coordinating the Vocalworks musical theatre program, and teaching music and drama at the Colby School.

But when she stops to think about it, it’s been nine years since she helped mold some of Park City’s youngest theatre buffs.

That makes her even more excited to return to the stage.

Tonight, she’ll be back at the Egyptian, but with a slightly older group of actors. Gourley and her traveling theatre troupe, Resonance Story Theatre, will present the final performance of "Tom Sawyer" at 8 p.m.

After moving to Alpine, Utah, in 2000, Gourley decided to take a break from the stage to focus on raising her daughter. She ended up finding another outlet for her creative energy: storytelling.

The more she met storytellers with backgrounds in theatre, the more Gourley wanted to meld the two forms of artistic expression. "I thought it’d be fun to get together and play with the boundaries between theatre and storytelling," she says.

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She created Resonance Story Theatre about three years ago and set out to do just that. The troupe’s trademark is blending interactive storytelling with the theatrical components of stage productions.

The theatre group collaborates with Orem Public Library’s Big Read Program, Utah Valley University, and schools around Utah to provide innovative, thought-provoking performances for audiences young and old.

Gourley describes the latest production, "Tom Sawyer," as a fairly straightforward theatre piece with signature storytelling elements. The show is designed for families and geared toward ages 7 and older.

Gourley wrote the adaptation for the play and artistic director Nannette Watts is directing. "It’s a story of a boy growing up," says Gourley. "I chose to focus on the episodes from the book that I felt fostered that theme."

The cast consists of five actors who play 15 roles, so "they’re constantly morphing in and out of character," says Gourley. The characters also interact with the audience quite a bit. "There is a fourth wall, but it’s not always there," she explains.

Whether audience members have recently learned of Tom Sawyer’s adventures or haven’t recapped his mischievous escapades since their school days, they’ll revel in classic scenes such as Tom whitewashing the fence, his courageous confrontation with Injun Joe, and his tomfoolery at Sunday school.

An actor portraying Mark Twain narrates the story, bringing a unique perspective to the tale. "It’s really fun because he’s such a character himself," Gourley says.

Resonance Story Theatre has been performing "Tom Sawyer" at schools and venues across the state for the past two months. Saturday night marks the finale of the production. Gourley says she’s thrilled to wrap up the show in Park City. "It still feels like home," she says.

Tonight’s performance starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $13 at the door and $15 for cabaret seating. Tickets may be purchased by calling 649-9371 or at http://www.parkcityshows.com.

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