Apr 052013




The Daily Reflector

Friday, April 5, 2013


If you go to see “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” you’ll want to see the other stories that go along with it.

That’s the idea, at least, for the East Carolina University Arts Smart and Family Fare performances today that will share seven children’s stories in TheatreWorks USA’s musical revue.

“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” the children’s classic written by Laura Joffe Numeroff, will be complemented in the performance by Mary Hoffman’s “Amazing Grace,” Verna Aardema’s “Borreguita and the Coyote,” David Small’s “Imogene’s Antlers,” Aaron Shepard’s “Master Man,” Jon Scieszka’s “Math Curse,” and Kevin Henkes’ “Owen.”

Children from area schools will be bussed in to ECU’s Wright Auditorium for the Arts Smart performances of the show today at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The Family Fare performance, open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m.

“This show is really cool because it flies through a bunch of books that you think maybe you don’t know, but you do or you know the authors,” said Michael Crane, the producing artistic director of Arts Smart and Family Fare who first saw the show several years ago at a presenter’s conference in New York.

Illustrating Crane’s point, Scieszka might be better known for his book “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,” or “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,” the story of the pigs living in three different houses told from the wolf’s perspective, which he co-authored with Lane Smith.

“They’re just very nice, compact vignettes,” Crane said. “It’s short, it’s fast-paced, there’s something for everybody. Just hang on for the next story if this one’s not working for you.”

With the show’s focus on children’s books, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books” was a natural fit for Arts Smart and Family Fare, which strive to incorporate literature while exposing children to the arts.

“I feel like swinging over to the commercial side isn’t the university’s responsibility,” Crane said of choosing appropriate performances. “I think we need to keep literature-based format when we can or at least keep some kind of content that’s inquisitive or provides some inspiration or is artistic as opposed to just mermaids on ice or whatever. This fits in pretty well with that.”

This will be the second time that Family Fare has staged a performance by TheatreWorks USA. The traveling theater company also performed “Martha Speaks” at ECU last October.

“It was well done,” Crane said of the October show. “A lot of the touring theater, it either hits well on the art side or hits well on the education side. They do a nice job of trying to make it work really well together.

“They’re tour ready. I love to see performances, but a lot of it, they just can’t tour, or they think they can, but they don’t have a lot of experience. This group has a home office that takes care of all their back-end marketing and their materials are ready. The actors that they recruit, they’re young, they’re fresh out of school and they’re very energetic. I think it’s the energy. The scripts are always fresh, they’re always a musical.”

Contact Natalie Sayewich at 329-9596 or nsayewich@reflector.com

via The Daily Reflector.


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