Child's Play: Storybooks on Stage will tell tales for kids -- and their parents -- on Saturday
John Jurcheck performs with Stories on Stage.
So, you've got a kid, huh? Whether it's your own rambunctious preschooler or the bratty nephew you've been charged with keeping alive for the next five hours, the most important thing is leaving your house where valuables are liable to be destroyed and seeking refuge on somebody else's property. In this series, we'll be exploring fun, local, and quirky spots that are kid-tastic and adult-friendly, too.
Denver's a great town for parents who want to introduce their children to the arts, and kid-crafted plays are certainly nothing new. But in an interesting spin on childhood theatrics, on April 12 Stories on Stage will present Storybooks on Stage, 75-minute-long adaptations of personal and short stories specifically geared toward children -- and totally suitable for adults, too.
Grown-ups already love Stories on Stage because for the past thirteen years, the organization has been presenting superior short fiction read by professional actors. "When you hear somebody else's story, you get a chance to walk in their shoes," says Stories on Stage Executive Director Abbe Stutsman, who taps into some seriously great local talent by working with organizations like the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Curious Theatre Company. Stutsman's also landed some damn fine out-of-towners for her shows.
When it comes to a Stories on Stage production, the goal is to provide entertainment and also an empathetic experience that will expand the viewer's paradigm. "Who doesn't love to be read to?" asks Stutsman. "We are about literature and the spoken word and the performance of it -- we feel this is a great way to connect with the audience." Why should this be limited solely to adult viewers?
Child-friendly stories aren't totally new to Stutsman and her crew. Stories on Stage has been doing a bilingual show in area elementary schools for three years and also puts on a suicide-prevention program for middle and high school students. Last year, the organization tried introducing spoken word to preschoolers, reading favorites like Winnie the Pooh and Dr. Seuss. "Children aren't foreign to us," Stutsman says. "But in terms of special shows, we haven't done much with them yet."
That will change at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 12, with Storybooks on Stage, at the Denver School of the Arts; it's geared toward elementary school students up to the age of ten. "But as with all of our shows, almost any age can gleam something," Stutsman says, noting that one of the program's goals is to create an enjoyable experience for the whole family.
Professional actors will perform great children's literature, everything from short stories to songs and poems. Works by Kate DiCamillo, Neil Gaiman and Cynthia Rylant will be brought to life by Gabriella Cavallero, Misha Johnson, John Jurcheck and Anthony Powell, among others.
"Everybody is local," says Stutsman. So the actors will also perform a couple of stories by local authors.
Gabriella Cavallero performing with Stories on Stage.
And Stories on Stage is also partnering with the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators to give away several author-donated books after the show.
Aside from the book raffle, there will be music, on-screen projections and various other theatrics designed to hold the attention of young viewers. At just $5 per ticket for kids twelve and under -- adults pay $10 -- the show's affordable, too. "We made this very reasonably priced because we want everyone to feel welcome," says Stutsman. "If this is successful -- and we hope it is! -- we would love to do it once or twice a year after this."
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