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Two Union students land VeggieTales roles

Kyle Rains pretends to be a water fountain during his performance in last year's children's play,
Kyle Rains pretends to be a water fountain during his performance in last year's children's play, "Hansel and Gretel." Rains and Natalie Newberry will be participating in the VeggieTales Live tour this spring. (Photo by Kyle Kurlick)

JACKSON, Tenn.Feb. 22, 2006 – Sophomore theater majors Natalie Newberry and Kyle Rains are taking this semester off from Union University to perform in a Big Idea production of VeggieTales Live.

They will be touring in more than 20 states and several locations in Canada with a 10-member cast from the beginning of March through May.

Rains and Newberry have been involved in many Union University theater productions, including the children’s shows “Hansel and Gretel” and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.”

Rains and Newberry say that while the show is designed for kids, it’s something that people of all ages can enjoy. In it Bob the Tomato is the stage manager for the VeggieTales tour and, with the help of his botanical friends, must decide which of their songs to include in the performance. The antics of the VeggieTales cast frustrate an uptight Bob, and according to Rains, “hilarity ensues.”

The show will include many of the classic VeggieTales songs performed in life-size costumes. Its message is that everyone should be themselves because God made each person unique.

Rains, who was his high school’s sports mascot, is preparing for his role as Jerry the Gourd and Archibald the Asparagus by watching episodes of the Muppets.

Newberry, who is playing Jimmy the Gourd, is working to prepare for the physical demands of the role.

The cast will wear vegetable costumes of varying size. For example, Larry the Cucumber is 9 feet tall, and Bob the Tomato is 5 feet in diameter. Despite his cumbersome costume, Rains says that he will act the way he normally would underneath it and try to portray energy through his body movements.

Despite the prospect of dancing on stage with a 45-pound costume, Newberry says she feels up to the task.

“I’ve done theater my whole life, and Union has given me a well-rounded theatrical view,” she said.

Their nearest performance to Jackson will be in Tupelo, Miss., on May 3. There is a possibility of a Memphis booking, and any changes will be posted at www.bigidea.com/events.

Rehearsals began Feb.17 and the first show is scheduled on March 7 in Virginia Beach, Va.

Rains looks forward to life on tour. “It’s not a 9-to-5 job,” he said. “I’d rather do this than be sitting in an office.”

He plans to keep a blog to record his experiences on tour. Students will be able to access it on facebook.com.

Though she at first felt nervous about skipping a semester of school, Newberry says she’s looking forward to it.

“I’m so excited and have never had so much peace,” she said. “I feel so blessed for this opportunity.”

By Chris Pearson (’08)

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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