Storyland Theatre's spin on classic Rumpelstiltskin will be pure gold

Storyland Theatre is bringing a classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale to life.


In a few weeks, the nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing live musical theater to children and families will entertain crowds with the story of Rumpelstiltskin .

In this timeless story, a poor miller falsely tells the king that his beautiful daughter can spin straw into gold. The king calls for the girl and demands her to create riches for him. But she can not and when she gives up all hope, Rumpelstiltskin appears. He bargains with her to spin straw into gold for her.

When she has nothing left to give, she promises that if she becomes queen she will give him her first-born son. When her son is born, Rumpelstiltskin demands that she give him the child -- unless she can guess his name.

Herman Gonzalez, an actor and theater/communications major at Augusta State University, will play the role of the king in the Storyland Theatre production.

"He's a greedy king who loves nothing but gold. Gold is everything to him until he stumbles across a young lady who changes his mind otherwise. He thinks gold is beautiful, and she shows up and she's even more beautiful than gold," he said.

He has appeared in several Storyland productions, Bilbo and the Magic Ring and Beauty and the Beast , where he focused on character acting. In his last play with Storyland, director Barbara Feldman wanted him to try a different kind of role and display his "multidimensional" acting and singing abilities, she said.

"Storyland is so much fun. It's for kids. You've got to be big. You've got to make them laugh. You've got to be interesting," Gonzalez said.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Gonzalez attended college in Augusta to be closer to his father, who was stationed at Fort Gordon at the time. The 23-year-old budding actor is simultaneously working on two other plays, Fat Pig at ASU and a student-written play, all premiering around the same time.

One of his best friends, Nic Wysong, will play the role of Rumpelstiltskin and will also appear in Fat Pig and the student-written play. It's hard work, but it's all part of a plan "to get their names out there," Gonzalez said.

"It's my last semester here, and I kind of wanted to leave with a bang," Gonzalez said.

Next, Gonzalez plans to move to Los Angeles with Wysong and some other acting friends to develop an acting career. He's trained in theater, but hopes to appear in movies and TV series.

"We sent our first recruit. He's already trying out for movies and TV shows, all in L.A. We're trying, and I promise you I will not stop," Gonzalez said.

Storyland Theatre's production of Rumpelstiltskin lasts 45 to 50 minutes. The actors will present three performances a day for reserved-seat audiences of school children. Seventy-percent of the students come from socioeconomic disadvantaged backgrounds, Feldman said.

There will also be a family matinee performance that is open to the public, she said.

Storyland's Rumpelstiltskin is written by Richard Davis Jr., the associate chairman of communications and professional writing at Augusta State University. Susan Burgess wrote the music for the play, and the musical director is Jim Nord. Georgia Cunningham is the choreographer for Rumpelstiltskin.

If you go

WHAT: Storyland Theatre's Rumpelstiltskin

WHEN: School shows: March 29 to April 1, at 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Reservations are required. Tickets are $4.50. Teachers and class chaperones free.

Family Matinee: April 2 at 3 p.m. No reservations required. Tickets are $5 per person. Active-duty military personnel and families free with photo ID. Meet the actors after the show.

WHERE: Imperial Theatre