NEW YORK CITY, October 3, 2023 — The Fled Collective will present its second developmental workshop of its 2023 Season this month. Step Kids is written by Tyrone L Robinson with additional music by Postell Pringle and directed by Raz Golden. Tickets are available for performances on October 26th, 27th and 28th at 7:00 PM at The Flea Theater. The performance on October 27 is Black Theater Night followed by a talk-back with the cast and creative team.
Tickets are $15 and will be available through Eventbrite.
ABOUT: Step Kids is a one act hip hop musical that tells the story of a group of college
students auditioning for the elite and competitive step dance team, The All Stars. Competition is tough and no mis-step goes unnoticed by “The Voice of God” (Erin Cherry). After much scrutiny and questioning, our heroine, Yessica (Kamiah Vickers) shares her love of Step. In her explanation, she goes into the history of Step Dancing in America and its African Roots, leading her to find her own voice.
The audience gets a beautifully recounted history lesson on the history of Step in America along with a High energy show full of music and dance. In an effort to bring step to communities across NYC, this past spring, The Fled Collective hosted a Step workshop at Kings Elementary School in Brownsville, NY, where scholars ages 5-10 were given firsthand the opportunity to learn the vocabulary of basic Step routines ahead of their graduating recital, Stepping Up! The goal of this workshop was to teach the students about the history of Step and the significant role it played throughout Black History and how it evolved into the artform it is today. Following a brief presentation of the history of Step (which you can view HERE), the students were taught some basic stepping phrases and ultimately the workshop will end with the students having learned a short routine.
Book, Music & Lyrics by Tyrone L. Robinson
Additional Music & Lyrics by Postell Pringle
Choreography by James Alonzo White
For an upbeat, kid-friendly show with heaps of heart, make a beeline for the world premier of Arthur & Friends Make a Musical at Milwaukee’s First Stage. When Mr. Ratburn’s class at Lakewood Elementary is asked to write and perform a show for all of Elwood City, the kids are super stoked. Except for Arthur, who’s struggling with what to contribute to the show. None of his ideas feel quite exciting enough. What’s an 8-year-old aardvark to do?
This First Stage musical is directed by Khalia Davis and features book and lyrics by John Maclay with music and lyrics by Brett Ryback, who also is the show’s musical director. Shoutout to Brett from a fellow Catholic Memorial High School alum. Brett was a senior when I was a freshman, and I fondly recall his sensational spin as Harold Hill in our production of The Music Man. How fun now to witness this charming, funny show of his firsthand at First Stage.
I had the pleasure of catching the Lakewood Cast, which features Sanaiah Hibbler as Arthur. Hibbler is a sophomore at Oak Creek High School and Arthur marks her fourth mainstage production at First Stage. She’s terrific and shines in moments both fast-paced and full of heart.
Supporting Hibbler is an entire cast of young performers that really brings it. This musical does a great job of giving everyone their own big, splashy musical number. It creates a veritable ensemble cast that, I imagine, would appeal to loads of young actors. Arthur gives each performer an opportunity to show loads of personality. Here’s who we get to enjoy in the Lakewood cast:
Fifth grader Layla Katers puts mighty spunk into her First Stage debut as Arthur’s little sister, D.W. Her obsession with aliens is a cute secondary story.
Niamh Mayne from PPMS sparkles as Muffy the fashionista, bringing flashy fun to “Dress for Success.”
Charlie Cornell, an eighth grader at St. Mary’s Visitation, stepped in from the other young performers cast as Brain. He’s perfectly poised and articulate, particularly during a wordy number where we’re nudged to “find a better word.” “Very is often overused,” Brain sings. This writer thoroughly enjoyed the playful reminder.
The musical theater fan in me found a standout favorite in Lucia Santana as Francine. Santana hails from Wisconsin Lutheran High School and brings genuine humor and originality to the 2022 version of Francine: an activist who believes that even when things are good, they can always be better. Her showstopper tells the story of Agent 355, a real-life female spy in the revolutionary war. Choreography by Khalia Davis impresses and amuses as the song dips into a Hamilton parody-a nod that had me laughing and loving it.
Alex Radke, a sophomore at Cedarburg High School, plays Arthur’s best friend Buster. He commands the stage during “Ulysses Napoleon Baggypants” alongside Baggypants himself, the hilarious Zach Thomas Woods.
Woods is one of three adult performers in the show, and Baggypants is a highlight of the Arthur. I also enjoyed Woods’ delivery of the winking line, “Are we solving problems through song?!”
SaraLynn Evenson as Arthur’s mother does indeed solve problems through song. She warmly reminds Arthur that he is “undeniable” and that it’s impossible to be boring when you’re the only one like you.
Rounding out the adult cast is the fizzy James Carrington as Mr. Ratburn. Carrington is a joy, delighting with laughs and big grins at every turn. All he has to do is enter the scene and voila! Smiles and giggles galore.
Arthur & Friends comes together with scenic design by Arnold Bueso, who has created a world lifted from the pages of Marc Brown’s books. Costume Designer Jason Orlenko nailed the looks for each character. We are invited to imagine Arthur as an aardvark, rather than the look being literal, and isn’t that perfect for children’s theater? A chance to tap into the power of imagination, as well as acknowledge the power there is in just being our authentic selves. Everyone is the star of their own story. Arthur & Friends is a marvelous reminder of that for kids and grown-ups alike.
Arthur & Friends Make a Musical is playing at First Stage through November 6, 2022. The show is approximately 75 minutes long, plus a brief intermission. It is recommended for families with children aged 5+. Find information and tickets at firstage.org.
Review by Kelsey Lawler for Broadway World.
Owen & Mzee The Musical is a inspiring true story of two great friends, a baby hippo named Owen and a 130-yr-old giant tortoise named Mzee. When Owen was stranded after a tsunami, villagers in Kenya worked tirelessly to rescue him. Then, to everyone’s amazement, the orphan hippo and the elderly tortoise adopted each other, and they became inseparable, swimming, eating, and playing together. Adorable photos e-mailed from friend to friend quickly made them worldwide celebrities. Here is a joyous reminder that in times of trouble, friendship is stronger than the differences that too often pull us apart.
339 West 47th Street
Between 8th and 9th Avenue
New York NY, 10036
Get your ticket today for 11/14 or 11/21 !
In Imagination Stage’s production of Zomo The Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth, written by Psalmayene 24 with music by Nick “tha 1 da” Hernandez, hip-hop meets a Nigerian folktale. Zomo the Rabbit (Gary L. Perkins III) doesn’t feel like he fits in with other animals. And much to Zomo’s dismay, no one is interested in his raps. Zomo decides what he needs is power. He seeks out the Sky God (Melissa Carter). Sky God is dealing with the constant fighting among the animals and is in need of something to unite them. She decides to give Zomo a quest. To get his power (and secretly help Sky God with her problem), he must retrieve three items: Big Fish’s (Unissa Cruse) dancing shoes, Wild Cow’s (Jonathan Atkinson) spray paint cans, and Leopard’s (Inés Domínguez del Corral) beat machine. As Zomo goes about his quest, he starts to realize that it wasn’t power that he was looking for after all. Imagination Stage’s Zomo The Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth, directed by Raymond O. Caldwell, brings back old school hip-hop for a fun, interactive show for kids and adults.
From the dance moves (directed by Tiffany Quinn) to the music (created and directed by Nick Hernandez), the show is old school hip-hop to its core. The show references raps from the 70’s and 80’s. The raps aren’t so fast that they would lose kids. The rap styles are comfortingly familiar and you’ll keep trying to guess which rap styles were used as inspiration even after the show. The projections and scenic design, by Nate Sinnott, are colorful and are spot on for the graffiti art style associated with hip-hop.
The costumes, designed by Madison Booth, play on hip-hop elements and pull from styles iconic of the 80’s and early 90’s. With the show being set in D.C., adults and kids will enjoy little Easter eggs such as the references to the Metro and the National Zoo.
The cast is an energetic and talented bunch. They keep the energy going even during audience interactions. A clear first place for audience favorite is the dance battle between Zomo and Big Fish. You get to learn a move or two and get to cheer on your favorite dancer. Both Perkins and Cruse have some seriously awesome moves. It doesn’t just stop at the dance battle. There is yoga with Flamingo, a Mad Lib style rap, and much more. Carter’s yoga obsessed Sky God is quite funny. Sky God goes around spouting silly sayings to a confused Zomo almost like a parent would to their child.
The show’s lesson about power is a good one. As Zomo goes on his quest, he begins to realize that his actions to get power are hurting Big Fish, Wild Cow, and Leopard. He learns that you have to earn power. But, the show isn’t just a lesson about power. It’s a lesson in hip-hop. You learn about hip-hop music and dance styles.
The only missed beat in this show? It’s a bit longer than it should have been. There are a few scenes which stretch out a bit such as Zomo meeting Wild Cow. These scenes don’t quite match the pacing of Zomo meeting the other characters.
With its lovable characters and its creative storytelling, don’t run – “hop” to go see Imagination Stage’s Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth.
Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission
Review by Hannah Wing from Broadway World.
“Fly Guy, the Musical,” the latest piece from Bay Area Children’s Theatre, has the jokes you’d expect — and miss if they weren’t there — from a show about an insect. There are lots of “buzz”-related puns, and the title character introduces himself by announcing his craving for “something tasty … like an old, dead fish.”
But this musical, which Austin Zumbro wrote, inspired by Tedd Arnold’s “Fly Guy” books, also accomplishes something loftier, which is to channel a child’s appreciation for the banal, even the germ-ridden — something adults in the audience could learn from.
The production follows Fly Guy (Dominic Dagdagan) as he goes from pest to pet at the hands of a benevolent young human, fittingly named Buzz (Benjamin Nguyen). Executive artistic director Nina Meehan conceived the show and directs. Recommended for ages 4 and older.
— Lily Janiak for SF Gate
“Fly Guy, the Musical”: 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, April 22-23. Through May 7. Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley; May 13-14. Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, 10550 Albion Rd., San Ramon; May 20-June 11. $20-$25. Children’s Creativity Museum Theater, 221 Fourth St., S.F. (510) 296-4433. www.bactheatre.org
Imagination Stage was so pleased with its hip-hop trilogy — “Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth,” 2009; “P. Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical,” 2012; and “Cinderella: The Remix,” 2014 — that it has commissioned the same team again.
Playwright Psalmayene 24 and composer Nick “tha 1da” Hernandez will soon unveil The Freshest Snow Whyte, the first of a five-play series about science, technology, engineering, art and math. “ ‘The Freshest Snow Whyte’ is my exploration of technology through the lens of hip-hop,” Morrison says.
The heroine of the title, a brilliant graffiti artist played by Katy Carkuff, lives in the year 3000. Instead of spray cans, she uses a graffiti device that she programs and then “sprays” onto walls (with the help of designer Tewodross Melchishua’s projections).
She raps to the audience:
Said my name is Snow Whyte
But not the Disney version
Cuz this remix
Is just a bit more urban
And these raps are tight
Just like a turban
My talent reveals the light
Like an open curtain
Replacing the evil stepmother is a jealous uncle named Kanye East (Calvin McCullough). A longtime graffiti star himself, he goes a little crazy when he hears that Snow Whyte is now considered the best graffiti artist in the land. His servant, 3 Pac (Frank Britton), and magic mirror, Mira (Jonathan Feuer), can’t reassure him. So he spirits his niece to a backwater planet where they still use spray cans and her work won’t be seen. Of course Snow Whyte triumphs.
Read the full article fro the Washington Post here.
Ms. Frizzle is back — sort of!
PEOPLE can exclusively reveal that Saturday Night Live‘s Kate McKinnon will be starring in Netflix’s revival of The Magic School Bus: Rides Again as the voice of teacher Fiona. Fiona, who is the sister to the the original Ms. Valerie Frizzle, will bring the same comedy mayhem and science education as the original educational ’90s series. Frizzle. The TV series — which premiered on Sept.10, 1994, is based on the book series of the same name by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen.
Read the full story here!
Ernie Nolan, an award-winning director and playwright based in Chicago, has been named as the new artistic director of Nashville Children’s Theatre, beginning February 1, 2017. Nolan succeeds Scot Copeland, NCT Producing Artistic Director for 31 years, who died unexpectedly in February of this year.
“I am thrilled beyond measure to declare Ernie Nolan NCT’s next artistic director,” says Jamie Eskind, NCT Board Chair. “Ernie is an artist of the highest caliber and an esteemed leader in the field of theatre for young audiences. His inspired vision, collaborative spirit, and investment in what is special about NCT are the precise combination of abilities required to lead NCT into the future.”
“I am incredibly honored to be a part of NCT’s rich history of exceptional theatre for young people,” says Nolan. “I feel so lucky to be able to call an organization with such talented artists, top notch staff, and dedicated board my new home. I look forward to serving the children, families, and teachers of Nashville with programming that reflects Nashville’s amazing community and bring stories to life that both inspire emotional discovery and ignite a fierce passion for the arts.”
Nolan, in 2014, was the recipient of the Illinois Theatre Association’s Award for Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences. As former Artistic Director of Emerald City Theatre, he helped create The Little Theatre, the nation’s first performance space dedicated exclusively to interactive and immersive theatrical experiences for early theatre goers ages five and under.
Nolan’s work as a playwright has been featured both nationally and internationally. He has adapted and directed such storybook favorites as If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, If You Take a Mouse to School, Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle. His work at The Broadway Playhouse includes A Charlie Brown Christmas, Fancy Nancy The Musical, Pinkalicious, The Cat in the Hat, Cinderella, Charlotte’s Web, and the world premiere of Hansel and Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat, written in collaboration with GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Justin Roberts.
As resident artist of The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, Nolan has directed and choreographed world premieres by such Tony-nominated artists as Willy and Rob Reale, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and Bill Russell and Henry Krieger. For Chicago Playworks he has directed The BFG, The Giver, The Witches, A Wrinkle in Time, Number the Stars, The Day John Henry Came to School, Peter Pan and Wendy and The Kid Who Ran for President. In March 2012, Ernie made his Off-Broadway debut as a choreographer with Lucky Duck at the New Victory Theatre.
Nolan is currently the International Representative for TYA USA to ASSITEJ, a global theatre for young audiences service organization. With his appointment at NCT, he is leaving his position as Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at The Theatre School. He is a graduate of both the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Program (BFA Musical Theatre) and The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA Directing).
The process of identifying a new artistic director for NCT began ten months ago. Frank Parsons, of the Center for Nonprofit Management, worked with NCT to conduct the search. The NCT Board of Trustees approved Nolan’s appointment unanimously in late November.
“We looked long and hard and were extremely deliberate in our search for a new artistic director,” Craige Hoover, chair of the search committee, says. “We were determined to find all of the qualities we wanted in one candidate and we believe we have that in Ernie.”
Nolan will visit the theater periodically over the next two months as he prepares for NCT’s 2017-2018 season, and will officially assume his post in February, 2017.
Daniel Brewer, a longtime collaborator of Copeland’s at NCT, has served as interim artistic director since the latter’s death.
About Nashville Children’s Theatre Nashville Children’s Theatre is a professional theatre company providing the children, families and educators of Middle Tennessee with extraordinary shared theatrical experiences that inspire imagination, develop creativity, and build community. NCT was founded in 1931 by the Junior League of Nashville and is recognized as the oldest professional children’s theater in the country. A national leader in professional theater arts and education programs for young people, NCT was ranked by TIME magazine as one of the top five children’s theaters in the country.
This article has been pulled from BroadwayWorld.com.