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Magic and mischief in 'Strega Nona'

Strega Nona, played by Ella Thomsen, teaches her protege Bambolona, played by Heather Derrick, to control her anger during a performance of Strega Nona at The Phipps. Bambolona leaves her father’s bakery in her Italian village to learn magic from Strega Nona. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
The Mayor, played by Connor Boorman, introduces his Italian village to the audience during a performance of Strega Nona at The Phipps. The play features area students in seventh through ninth grades. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
The cast of Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona finishes their performance with a song at The Phipps. The play runs through Oct. 14. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

HUDSON — Tomie dePaola's "Strega Nona" at The Phipps brings fun and laughs to the audience of the Black Box Theater, as well as a few Italian vocab lessons too.

The Children's Theater production, performed by local students in seventh through ninth grade, follows the witch of an Italian village, Strega Nona, played by Ella Thomsen, as she takes on a new protege in magic, Bambolona, and a new helper around the house, Big Anthony.

When Bambolona, played by Heather Derrick, begins her lessons, Big Anthony, played by Max Steiner, becomes intrigued by the magic.

Though the two seem so different at the start, both Big Anthony and Bambolona turn to magic as a means to escape from who they are, or who they're expected to be. Bambolona no longer wants to be the only worker in her father's bakery and the anger that comes with it, and Big Anthony wants to get away from being known as clumsy and troublesome.

While Strega Nona and Bambolona are resistant to have him join the lessons, Big Anthony takes magic into his own hands, with unexpected, and at times disastrous, results.

What follows is a series of humorous debacles that reminds the audience the importance of being one's self, and of learning one's lesson the first time around.

The musical will be a hit for kids of all ages, with plenty for the adults to enjoy as well.

"Strega Nona" is funny and entertaining for the audience, from watching Big Anthony stumble across the stage and through life to Strega Nona and Bambolona's witty comments and tricks. The nonverbal, near-silence of the Goat, played by Finn Rutledge, and Toad, Dane Olson bring laughs of their own.

The action is accompanied by songs and dances, making the performance even more lively.

All of it unfolds against one of The Phipps' beautifully designed sets. The Mediterranean colors and terracotta floor brings all the warmth and familiarity of a small Italian village.

"Strega Nona" runs weekends through Sunday, Oct. 14 with performances at 7 p.m. Fridays, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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