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'On Dragonfly Wings' opens Thursday in GSU's Black Box Theatre
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The Leech, played by Geoff Carr, right, bullies Clovis the Crayfish, played by justin Peay, during a scene from "On Dragonfly Wings." - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Making its mainland U.S. debut, the musical “On Dragonfly Wings” opens Thursday in Georgia Southern University’s new Black Box Theatre located in the Center for Art and Theatre.  The show, presented by Georgia Southern University Theatre and Performance, runs April 10 —13 and 15 —19 with evening shows starting at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s matinee at 2 p.m.
    The true story behind the musical and the powerful inspiration for it are some of the reasons artistic director and GSU professor of theatre Kelly Berry wanted to bring the show to GSU. Originally performed in Hawaii where he was attending graduate school, Berry said this show has broad appeal outside the islands.
    “Throughout your career in the theater, you rarely come across a show that really speaks to you — but this is one of those shows,” said Berry.
    The background story for the musical starts in 1994 when a girl named Alana Dung was born. Soon after, she was diagnosed with leukemia and her family discovered that she desperately needed a bone marrow transplant. When news of the little girl’s struggle reached the mainstream, the people of Hawaii responded in an unimaginable way.    
    Nearly 30,800 people attempted to help by joining the Hawaii Bone Marrow Registry. Before long, a match was found for little Alana and she got the needed treatment. But following the successful transplant, she suffered a relapse and passed away in her sleep. She was three-and-a-half years old.
    At her funeral, the story of how a waterbug is transformed into a dragonfly flying into another world lifted the spirits of those in attendance. It was this story that inspired the authors of the children’s picture book “Wailana and the Waterbug”, which serves as the inspiration for the musical.
    “On Dragonfly Wings” was written by Lisa Matsumoto with music and lyrics written by Roslyn Catracchia. The musical made its debut at the Leeward Community College on the island of O’ahu in 2001 and revived again 2 years later at the Hawaii Theatre Centre.
    Berry was first involved with the show while he was in Hawaii attending graduate school. Matsumoto had asked him to supply the technical direction for the show.
    “They asked if I could give them a waterfall and trampolines and I said ‘Sure,’” said Berry.
    The musical tells the story of Daisy Dragonfly (Statesboro High sophomore Annelise Kitching) and her attempts to grow up in a changing world. She lives in the small community of Crystal Pond, which stands in danger of being destroyed by Mr. Leech (GSU professor Geoff Carr).  Mr. Leech is the greedy pond owner who wants to make the watery town more profitable by turning it into a dump.
    Daisy and her friend Simon (GSU student Alex Couch) try and save the pond from the developers and plan a huge parade to celebrate life in their small town. But in the days before the parade, Daisy is unable to continue as she begins her transformation into a Dragonfly.
    Daisy, confused and disappointed that her “change” had to happen just before her big day, spends her final moments with friends and family.
    After rising above the water, she finds her mother, Dora (GSU student Kristi Burdett), waiting to teach her about life in “the world above”. She desperately wants to go back and help her friends with the parade but is forced to find ways to help from her new world.
    The musical was honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 2007 when it was selected to participate in the Disney Musical Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles.
    Director Kristyl Dawn Tift, musical director Melanie Stone and assistant director and GSU student Tara Helrich all work with Berry to prepare the show.
    Tickets for the musical are $4 for students, $8 for faculty and staff and $12 for general admission. Tickets may be reserved by calling (912) 681-5379.  

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