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Nancy Drew is on the case at Children’s Theatre of Western Springs

<p>Carolyn Baldwin of Western Springs stars as Nancy Drew and Tim O'Malley of Indian Head Park plays her father, Carson Drew, in "Nancy Drew: Girl Detective" by the Childen's Theatre of Western Springs.</p>

Carolyn Baldwin of Western Springs stars as Nancy Drew and Tim O'Malley of Indian Head Park plays her father, Carson Drew, in "Nancy Drew: Girl Detective" by the Childen's Theatre of Western Springs.

Facts

The Children’s Theatre of Western Springs presents, ‘Nancy Drew: Girl Detective’ 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, March 7-16 4384 Hampton Ave., Western Springs $12 adults, $6 students 18 and younger (708) 246-3380; www.theatreofwesternsprings.com

People sometimes stared at Karen Holbert’s reading material as she prepared for her latest project. That’s because the Western Springs resident was reading Nancy Drew mysteries in order to direct “Nancy Drew: Girl Detective” for the Children’s Theatre of Western Springs.

“I was a really fearful child and stayed away from anything remotely scary like mysteries,” Holbert admitted. Once she accepted the directing assignment, though, Holbert made up for lost time.

“I was sorry I didn’t read them as a child because Nancy’s so able to get out of every danger in her path,” she said. “I think it would have been good medicine for me to read it as a kid. I think she’s a good role model.”

Audiences of all ages will get a chance to be inspired by that spunky title teen March 7-16.

The play’s story takes place on the Van Pelt Estate, where the Footlighter’s Barn Theater performs. It revolves around rumors of jewels hidden on the estate and a mysterious presence.

Holbert was selected to direct this show because she works with high school students as a faculty member of the Children’s Theatre. “They wanted to cast this show a little bit older because many of the characters are 18,” the director said. Cast members range in age from 11-18. “It’s fun to give kids the opportunity to play someone close to their age,” Holbert said.

That includes Carolyn Baldwin of Western Springs, who plays the title sleuth.

The 16-year-old sophomore at Lyons Township High School has been involved with the Children’s Theatre of Western Springs since she was eight. She is a fan of the Nancy Drew books.

“I read them all when I was younger,” Baldwin said. “They don’t use shock factors, they’re just very well written and smart, and suspenseful without being violent.”

She described her character as “very curious and also polite and proper but she’s not necessarily reserved, even though she tries to be. She’s smart but she’s also street smart.”

In this play, Nancy’s skills range from rock climbing to identifying diamonds and rubies, Baldwin noted. Her challenges include trying to figure out what happened to the jewels that were due to come to an heiress on her eighteenth birthday and whether puppets — or could it be ghosts — are responsible for the thievery.

Director Holbert praised scenic designer Laura Dieli of Chicago, describing her set as “wonderfully imaginative because we have 11 different locations in the script. Laura came up with a way you can take a big space and keep reinventing it.”

Holbert added that this is a great show for her students because it utilizes a number of the skills they are taught at the theater, including using masks, improvisation, dance and stage combat. “I think it’s been fun for the kids to apply what they’re learning in class to a performing experience,” she said.

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Facts

The Children’s Theatre of Western Springs presents, ‘Nancy Drew: Girl Detective’ 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, March 7-16 4384 Hampton Ave., Western Springs $12 adults, $6 students 18 and younger (708) 246-3380; www.theatreofwesternsprings.com
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