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home : features : features November 24, 2015

7/22/2013 6:03:00 AM
'Elk in the Attic' explores human-animal interface
Courtesy photo
Dino Pilazzi, left, and Carly Fonda play Bill the Elk and Tim, respectively, in “Elk in the Attic,” which opens Thursday at the Elks Opera House.
Courtesy photo
Dino Pilazzi, left, and Carly Fonda play Bill the Elk and Tim, respectively, in “Elk in the Attic,” which opens Thursday at the Elks Opera House.
Karen Despain
The Daily Courier

"Elk in the Attic," a humorous and thought-provoking play about a very large critter that takes up residence in a home's upper reaches, will open for a second run Thursday at the Elks Opera House.

The play, by Prescott resident Christopher E. Hoy, made its debut in summer 2012. Since then, Hoy and director Tiffany Antone have had the time to make revisions that mirror the original story that Hoy wrote in a book by the same name.

Hoy conceived the idea from actual experience in the 1980s when he lived in a suburban neighborhood in Boulder, Colo.

"I looked out the window and there was a big buck mule deer laying under a crab apple tree, eating an apple," he said. "I had my kids come and look, thinking the deer would leave."

But, the deer didn't leave surroundings he apparently found comfortable through the winter months. That the deer could hop the fence to dine on the Hoy family's shrubbery remains a mystery.

Inspiration for the "Elk in the Attic" book came from Hoy's Colorado neighbor who told him he had a pair of raccoons in his attic. But, the neighbor decided not to evict them when he discovered they were a family of parents and babies.

Hoy took the story and made it into a long tale about a deer in his attic, and repeatedly heard he should write a book.

So he did, 23 years later, changing the mule deer to an elk named "Bill" after the elk that stands on top of the Elks Opera House.

The story is about the line that normally separates civilization and nature and what happens when that line disappears - and "people find themselves nose-to-nose with the critters."

Set in Prescott, "Elk in the Attic" begins when a number of drought-weary forest animals risk everything to temporarily take up residence in Prescott. Nine-year-old Tim Armstrong discovers a huge bull elk, Bill, living in the attic above his bedroom and learns he is not the only student at his school with a new animal friend. When the adults find themselves polarized and frustrated by the animal invasion and the situation threatens to get out of hand, high-flying Eagle returns from a trip to the top of the world with important news about the future of all living things.

Tiffany Antone directs the play, with Cason Murphy lending technical design and direction. The cast includes local youths and adults and stars Carly Fonda as Tim and Dino Pilazzi as Bill the Elk. Pilazzi is also musical director. The play has new songs but also original music and lyrics by D-Squared and Judy Clothier. The audience will hear such melodies as "High and Dry," "It Could Be Good (to have a friend)," "Rain Dance," and "All Caught Up."

The show features the masks created in 2012 by Jacob Devaney and Galandriel Sardonicus, and costumes by Gayle Yungman.

The play is "much more aligned with the original book," Antone said. "It's a really cute play" that shows through the friendships that develop between people and animals they understand each other's perspectives, she said.

Fonda, who is 12 years old, is a familiar actor in Prescott, because she had the lead in Prescott Center for the Arts' "Annie," and she played young Helen Keller in "Miracle Worker."

To play Tim in "Elk in the Attic," she had to cut her medium-length hair to portray a boy.

As for her character she said, "I feel like it's something different. It's always good to have experience in everything." Playing a boy is different, but she's enjoying Tim's "fun body language. At some points, he is anxious, feisty and very laid back. I like that."

Fonda wants to continuing acting, she said, but she also wants to be an attorney, living with "in-court action - the stuff you see in movies."

Pilazzi, another stage regular in Prescott, has "never played an elk before."

"It's fascinating getting into the body language, rhythm and imagined mindset of an elk," he said. It's been quite a journey. I hope the results are comical. They sure are fun to come up with."

"Elk in the Attic" plays at 7 p.m. this coming Thursday through Saturday, July 25, 26 and 27, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 28. Tickets are $10 to $16 and are available at the Elks Opera House box office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, by calling the box office at 777-1370, logging onto or an hour before the show.

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