In the BGSU Treehouse Troupe’s production of “Golliwhoppers,” Knee-High Man (Eric Zanni) asks friends from the swamp, “Can you tell me how to get sizeable?”

In the BGSU Treehouse Troupe’s production of “Golliwhoppers,” Knee-High Man (Eric Zanni) asks friends from the swamp, “Can you tell me how to get sizeable?”

Youngsters to hear tall tales from BGSU's Treehouse Troupe

Tall tales abound in BGSU’s Treehouse Troupe production of “Golliwhoppers,” now touring area schools.

A collection of short plays about tall tales, “Golliwhoppers,” by Flora Atkins, celebrates American history and heritage through narrative, dance, song and puppetry. A free public performance will be presented at 4 p.m. April 19 at the Wooster Street Center, 1124 E. Wooster St. Community members of all ages are encouraged to attend.

Tales include “Big Jesse Febold Ebenezer Chopalong,” the story of a mythical hunter who uses an axe and ingenuity to provide for his family; “The Sun Snatchers,” a version of a Native American tale of how the sun came to be enjoyed by all the world; “The Knee-High Man,” Cajun lore about a small boy’s discovery that the measure of a person comes not from his physical prowess but rather from the strength of his character, and “Goll-Gollee-Gee,” a short saga about the importance of honesty and integrity.

A division of the Department of Theatre and Film, Treehouse Troupe is often the first and sometimes the only live drama many children in northwest Ohio encounter during elementary school. With the reduction of funds and increase in testing limiting cultural field trips for schools, Treehouse Troupe provides an essential service by bringing the theatre to young people.

The troupe, founded in 1979, tours approximately 40 schools in 12 counties, presenting shows for 10,000-15,000 students annually. In its 30 years, Treehouse Troupe has performed nearly 1,200 shows and presented nearly 3,000 workshops for over 300,000 students, teachers and public audiences. 

The company is made up of six to 10 BGSU students who audition to join and, through a semesterlong process, receive training in theatre education and workshops and develop, rehearse and perform the selected plays.

This year’s troupe includes senior theatre major Janell Blanks of Dayton; freshman musical theatre major Erin Bolyard of Euclid; junior theatre majors Joe Connelly of Irwin, Pa., and Nathan Zbikowski of Holland; sophomore musical theatre major Jackie Jerlecki of Goshen, Ind.; sophomore film major Daniel Malin of Jewett City, Conn., and freshman film major Eric Zanni of Chillicothe.

The troupe is led by instructor Esther Iverson with the assistance of theatre master’s degree candidate John Paul “JP” Staszel, of Scottdale, Pa., who directs the production and serves as road manager. In addition to performing, each ensemble member also has behind-the-scenes responsibilities from set and costume care to stage management. 

For more information about the troupe, contact Sara Turner, theatre and film, at 419-372-0370 or

March 23, 2009