New Children’s Theatre season features big names

“It’s not exactly sausage making. It’s more like making a banquet or a bouquet. We like to think we are making something really gorgeous,” says Peter Brosius. “Not that I don’t like sausage!”

20120315_peter-c-brosius_1.jpg The Children’s Theatre Company Artistic Director is a bouncing spring of a man, never still in his office chair. His desk is awash in papers, books, and letters, a tideline left by the creative swells passing through his room.

His talk of sausages is not about his lunch plans, but how he put together the CTC’s 2013-2014 season, which is released today.

It’s a complex mix: knowing the CTC has lots of different audiences to serve, while looking at what original and classic work is available, and who might be available to do it.

Thing 1 tall.jpg“And you have a thing called ‘a budget,’” he laughs.

Given all those things, Brosius appears to have put together a remarkable line-up.

“So we have a season, next year, that has three world premieres,” he says. “Two extraordinary guest companies coming in, a Broadway musical, a classic that has never been on our stage before, ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and bringing back ‘Cinderella.’”

Amongst the premieres is what promises to be a remarkable stage adaptation of a book by one of the great living writers of children’s literature

“It started in my child’s classroom where they were reading “The Scarecrow and the Servant” by Philip Pullman,” says Brosius.

Brosius’ son loved it, his teacher loved it and so did Brosius when he read it. He got the rights from Pullman, author of “The Golden Compass” and the rest of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Then Brosius commissioned internationally acclaimed Twin Cities playwright Jeffrey Hatcher to develop a stage play.

“It is a remarkable and incredible story,” Brosius says. “Sort of a mix. Like if you put Don Quixote and the Wizard of Oz and all kind of stories in a blender and then put them in the gorgeous and inventive comic mind of Philip Pullman and Jeffrey Hatcher. You get this story of this wonderful friendship between this grand and extraordinary scarecrow who is off to seek fame and fortune and valor, and is gorgeously both clown, and fool, and grand presence in his own mind, and this poor orphan Jack who is in need of some food.”

20090123_hatcher_3.jpgTogether the pair head out on a series of adventures and end up confronting evil forces set to destroy where they live. Brosius says the play received a number of workshop presentations and Hatcher has reworked the script several times to a point where everyone is very excited about it.

“Jeffrey has done some things that have heightened the heart and the relationship and certainly the incredible humor.”

Another world premiere is a collaboration with New York’s Ma-Yi Theater and Lloyd Suh who Brosius calls “one of the hottest playwrights in America today.”

“And he has created a wild anime-inspired action adventure piece about identity called “The Wong Kids in The Secret of the Space Chucpacabra Go!”

It’s the story of two youngsters Bruce and Violet who have to save the universe, but first of all they get over the fact they can’t stand each other. Ma-Yi will open the show at the CTC and then move it to New York where it will play off-Broadway.

This is the first of two visiting companies in the CTC season. The second is the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, which specializes in black light puppetry. Brosius expects the company to mark a major milestone while it is in Minneapolis.

“I think they will have their five millionth viewer seeing Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other stories,” he says. Mermaid has never been seen before on the CTC stage.

The third world premiere is “Balloonacy” by Ivey Award winning playwright Barry Kornhauser. The show is aimed at CTC’s youngest audiences.

“For us the work for pre-schoolers is a huge priority for this theater,” says Brosius. “This is the story of a little old man who doesn’t like much about life, he’s a grumpy old thing.”

Then a balloon flies in his window and, despite the old man’s best efforts, won’t leave him alone. Gradually the old man softens and relearns how to play. Brosius says there’s a message in “Balloonacy” for all ages.

“Sometimes age can take it away from you, and so this is a lesson for all of us, that sense of play, that sense of invention, that sense of joy, it’s all there to be tapped,” he says.

There is another local premiere in the list: “Charlotte’s Web.”

“Wildly it’s going to be the first time it’s been done here,” says Brosius.

Another production getting it’s first run is “Shrek the musical,” the Broadway show which Peter Rothstein of Theater Latte Da will direct.

Rounding out the season are two returning favorites, the aforementioned Cinderella (below) with what Brosius describes as “the ugliest step-sisters. I love Dean (Holt) and Reed (Sigmund) but, boy, they are not beautiful women,” he laughs.

There will also be the return of “Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat” (see Thing 1 above) which will be presented in May through July of 2014 as the first of what will be an ongoing series of summer programming at the CTC.

Cinderella (small).jpg

Here is the 2013-2014 season in full:

Charlotte’s Web

By Joseph Robinette

Based on the Book by E.B. White

Directed by Greg Banks

September 17 – October 27

Grades K+

The Wong Kids in The Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!

Co-Produced with Ma-Yi Theater Company

By Lloyd Suh

Directed by Ralph B. Peña

October 8 – November 17

Grades 3+

Cinderella

Adapted by John B. Davidson

Original Music by Victor Zupanc

Based on the Fairytale by Charles Perrault

Directed by Peter C. Brosius

November 12 – January 5

Recommended for all ages

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites

Produced by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia

Adapted, directed, and designed by Jim Morrow

Music by Steven Naylor

Narrated by Gordon Pinsent

January 14 – February 23

Grades Preschool +

The Scarecrow and His Servant

By Jeffrey Hatcher

Based on the book by Philip Pullman

Directed by Peter C. Brosius

March 11 – April 6

Grades 3+

Shrek the Musical

Music by Jeanine Tesori

Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire

Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig Directed by Peter Rothstein

April 22 – June 8

Recommended for all ages

Balloonacy

By Barry Kornhauser

Directed by Peter C. Brosius

March 25 – May 4

Grades Preschool +

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat

Based on the book The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Play originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain

Adapted and originally directed by Katie Mitchell

Directed by Jason Ballweber

May 22 – July 20

Grades Pre-K+

(All images courtesy Children’s Theatre Company, except for MPR file image of Jeffrey Hatcher)

  • BJ

    This season has been great. Looking forward to Cinderella and Charlotte’s Web next season!