Abbie Hawke as the Rat King, center, leads the other rats in song and dance during a rehearsal for the Ohio Performing Arts Institute’s upcoming musical production of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRETT TURNER

‘Pied Piper’ to bring music, comedy to Springfield

A rat invasion is heading to Springfield this weekend. Don’t be too quick to call the exterminator or bring out the traps.

“The Pied Piper of Hamelin” is on the job.

The Ohio Performing Arts Institute has cats and rats mixing together in song and comedy when the musical version of the classic tale arrives at 7 p.m. Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14 as well as matinee performances at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 15 at OPAI, 1616 E. High St.

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When some of OPAI’s youngsters wanted a musical, director D. Scot Davidge found the right combination of music and humor in “Pied Piper.”

“It’s totally tongue-in-cheek, some of the jokes are dated and I had to teach the kids how to deliver them,” he said.

This version of the piper story involves a show within a show as a theater-loving Hamelin cat named Falstaff becomes the piper, involving the rats and fellow cats in their own musical version of the story, aiming to eventually rid the town of the pesky creatures.

It includes catchy songs like “Rat Song” and “Something Stinks.”

“It’s just a very, very fun show,” said Lyndsey Phillips, in her first big lead as Falstaff. “There are so many jokes and the kids are cute.”

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Abbie Hawke is also having fun playing a part opposite her: the King of the Rats, who is clueless but fun.

“You have to act like a thug, an animal,” Hawke said.

They’ll put the rat in the word pirate, dressing in pirate costumes.

With less than a week before showtime, Davidge drafted Emma Pitts to bail him out when a cast member dropped out.

Pitts, a Northridge Middle School student, is glad to be in and is having to catch up, but is enjoying her role as the head vegetarian rat, who enjoys a picnic while the others fight.

Davidge said his group is strong with kids who are in the middle of the school’s age range, but his few youngest are standing out such as Adelaide Powell, who has her first big role.

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Quinlynn Litteral, 8, admits she’s a little nervous about getting her lines right in her first big show. There’s some pressure as she gets to close the show, but smiles about the opportunity.

“This is part of a great year, we’ve got a lot of talent and chances to show it,” Davidge said.

OPAI will follow up “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” with “Anything Goes” May 17-19 at the John Legend Theater and a variety show June 1-2 at Tecumseh High School.

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