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Las Vegas natives return home to put together childrens play, Mortise and Tenon Custom Furniture Design Blog

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A bit of history background on the Mortise & Tenon crew.

Las Vegas natives return home to put together childrens play

Friday, April 6, 2001 | 7:49 a.m.

The stage schooled Daniel Kucan and Maite Garcia in more than just their craft as professional actors.

It also taught them some of life's enduring lessons -- discipline, a strong work ethic and joy.Thepair honed their art with the local Rainbow Company Youth Theatre inthe early '80s, and return to the company to direct "Fool of theWorld," which opens today at the Reed Whipple Cultural Center.

Theplay is an adaptation of the Russian folktale about a young peasant whois carried away on a magical flying ship. He comes back to Earth at thepalace of the great Czar of Russia, where he competes with rich suitorsfor the love of a fair princess."Fool of the World," unlike most large productions, depends upon a young audience to move the story along."Children's theater relies on the actors and the audience," Garcia said. "They both work to make (fantasy) happen."

Theaudience is engaged by the cast, ages 6 to 16, during the 60-minuteplay. The crowd clucks like chickens, howls like wind and shouts outsuggestions to guide the peasant and the princess on their journey.

"It gets them excited about acting, too," Garcia said. "They can act out and help the actors."Atone point the child actors onstage toss balloons to the audience andwhisper, "Magic." The children are to gently tap the balloons back andwhisper the word back to the actors to ensure the enchanted ship willfly.

Garcia and Kucan, professional actors living in Los Angeles,have been commuting weekly since March to direct the play in the40-seat studio theater.They contribute their dedication tolessons they learned in children's theater -- something they want topass on to the current cast. "Having been the same kids onstagehere, we knew what fed us," Garcia said. "What stayed with us will staywith them for the rest of their lives."

Garcia moved to LagunaBeach, Calif., after she graduated from UNLV in 1988. She's had astring of small film roles and opened her own business, Mortise andTenon furniture store, with outlets in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Shedabbles in theater as a producer, an actress and in set design.Kucan left Las Vegas in 1989 to attend New York University and to pursue an acting career.

Hesaid he was disappointed by the lazy work ethic and whining of theexperienced actors and dancers he worked with at such venues as theMetropolitan Opera, where he performed in a show featuring LucianoPavaroti. Kucan also worked in television, on "Guiding Light" and "AllMy Children," before he moved to Los Angeles in 1996.

Garcia and Kucan have wanted to direct for a few years."This turned out to be perfect because we get to work together and come home," Garcia said.The Rainbow Company taught every actor discipline and accountability, Kucan said."The most important thing for anybody is that this makes them professional, dedicated and hard working people.

"This(company) taught me respect for the theater, for the business," Kucansaid. "I don't see a lot of that in the real world anymore. Here (atthe Rainbow Company) you have to step up to the task or be out."

Thestage continues to offer lessons to be learned. As directors, the twoagree that the young actors shouldn't overact for the crowd."You have to be sincere," Kucan said. "Otherwise the audience feels it and you go nowhere."

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