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UMKC students bring children’s book to life on Coterie Stage

“How do young kids cope with something like fear, that is not always easy to fight, something you don’t always see your everyday superhero take on?” asked lighting designer Bryce Foster.

UMKC Theatre students explore these questions, and more, in the UMKC and Coterie Theatre co-production “The Secret of Courage.” Award winning playwright Laurie Brooks adapted Terry Brooks’ short story “Imaginary Friends”, bringing a much-loved classic to life.

Fourteen-year-old Jack (Jay Love) loves to write stories, play baseball with his friends, and spend time with his mom. Love performs alongside Roan Ricker, who plays his quirky best friend, Waddy.

The two have brilliant onstage chemistry. Waddy stands by Jack to support his companion through a terrifying time, while putting a much-needed smile on his face.

His life seemed to be going perfectly, until a series of painful headaches and bruises caused him to visit his family doctor and discover that he may suffer from leukemia. Jack felt the weight of the world as fear grew inside of him, telling him he wasn’t going to survive. He needed magic.

But Pick, a magical elf, said it best: “Having magic is not enough, you must choose what to do with it.”

The Coterie transformed into a magical park, as tree branches reached out above the audience and covered the ceiling. The set was designed by using inexpensive materials in unique ways. The life-like trees, made from translucent materials that were painted and filled with lights, adds the illusion of magic.

“To do all the magical tricks in that space and on the very small budget that we had was a huge challenge so we had to get very creative,” said Foster.

“The Secret of Courage” is an enchanted family show great for all ages.

“The Secret of Courage” ran from Jan. 23-Feb. 11. More information about upcoming performances by the UMKC Theatre department is available at

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