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Here comes the turnip truck!

Hello again!

Well, folks, today’s topic: children’s books.

children's books

I LOVE literature for young readers. It’s a passion of mine.

I love yellow roads …

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I love teddy bears …

Bears

I love vampires …

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I also love being able to transform some of the best loved children’s books into live theatrical productions.

Elphaba Me

One day I will happily share a full list of all my favorite children’s books with you, but today I am going to focus on three that have been adapted for the stage and which I’ve been lucky enough to produce and direct in recent years.

I hope this article gets both children and adults excited about reading and going to the theatre.

So let’s get started!

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To date, I’ve had the opportunity to produce and direct many shows targeted at young audiences. My favorites so far:

Sideways Stories From Wayside School

Freckleface Strawberry The Musical

A Wrinkle in Time.

The original books these three shows are based on are, by far, some of the best children’s stories ever written. I highly recommend you run out and pick them up today.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Sideways Book Cover

Based on the award-winning children’s books by Louis Sachar, Sideways Stories From Wayside School is set at a school that was accidentally built tall instead of wide, which leads to all sorts of outrageous adventures. Wayside School is a place where pigtails talk, kids get turned into apples and a cow roams the halls.

It’s awesome!

sideways tabloid poster

Here are a couple of photos from my production of Sideways Stories From Wayside School starring Andrew Kasper as Mrs. Gorf, Mr. Pickle, Miss Valooosh and Mr. Gorf; Floyd Carmant as Myron; Sarah Jacobs as Bebe and Leslie’s Pigtails; Jim Gross as Louis and Miss Mush; Luraine Armandt as Leslie; Amandalyn McLellan as Rondi and Leslie’s Pigtails; Richard Wingert as Dameon; David the Edge as the voice of Mr. Kidswatter; Margaret O’Brien as Mrs. Jewls; Meghan Kasper as Sammy and Mrs. Kidswatter; and, me, Toni Ruscio as the voice of Miss Zarves.

Photo by Megan Braemore

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Megan Braemore This image shows actor Jim dipping Ms. Valooosh... that hair! It was a bad look so I blurred out Jim's face to protect his identity.

Photo by Megan Braemore
This image shows Jim Gross dipping Ms. Valooosh … look at that hair! It was a bad look so I blurred out Jim’s face in this and all other Sideways photos to protect his identity.

Photo by Megan Braemore

Photo by Megan Braemore

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Freckleface Strawberry The Musical

Freckleface Strawberry Book

Based on an acclaimed children’s book series by Julianne Moore, Freckleface Strawberry tells the story of a young girl who will do anything to get rid of her freckles – from scrubbing them with soap, to caking on makeup, and even wearing a ski mask to school! With the help of her loveable schoolmates including an amazingly talented ballerina, a cute jock, a charming ditz, and a totally kooky teacher, Freckleface learns that everyone is different – and that’s what makes everyone special.

It’s inspiring!

Freckleface Strawberry tks poster

Here are a few of my favorite photos from my production of Freckleface Strawberry The Musical starring Deirdre Burke as Strawberry; Bryan George Rowell as Danny/Frankie Freckle/Tap Dancer; Carlos Ramos as Harry/Don Fontaine Freckle/Clown; Nathan Fosbinder as Jake/Fredo Freckle/Spy; Luraine Armandt as Ballet Girl/Francine Freckle; Liz Erardi as Jane/Mother/Lady Gaga; Jocelin Weiss as Emily/Guitar Player/Baby Sister; Tara Mansour as Teacher.

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyenc

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time Book

Based on the classic novel by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time tells the story of 13-year-old Meg Murry and her brilliant little brother, Charles Wallace, as they travel through time and space with their friend Calivin O’Keefe to rescue their father. This classic sci-fi story of good vs. evil will absolutely capture your imagination!

It’s far out … waaaayyyy out!

A_Wrinkle_in_Time_Poster

Here are a few photos from my production of A Wrinkle in Time starring Meghan Kasper as Meg Murry; Aaron Kasper as Charles Wallace; Jaden Hallisey as Calvin O’Keefe; Haley McKenney as Mrs Who, Mother, Aunt Beast, Camazotz Woman and IT; Andrew Kasper as Mrs Whatsit, Man with Red Eyes and IT; Jake Plummer as Mrs Which, Father and Camazotz Man.

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

Photo by Andrew Nguyen

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As I attached the above photos I remembered what fun I had with each of those casts.  They are all such special people!

Photos of the Special People

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Toni Ruscio

Photo by Toni Ruscio

I would love to find a show where I can bring all these talented actors together, but what would I do?

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 Maybe I should just combine all threes shows and call it:

Wrinkle Sideways, Strawberry!

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I’m sure each of the authors won’t mind me fiddling around with their respective pieces of art a little bit.

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(I’M JUST KIDDING, AUTHORS! I know you would mind.)

This is allegedly what angry authors look like...

This is allegedly what angry authors look like…

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Angry authors aside, imagine for a moment what such a show would look like?

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This is Lulu Cruz - she is thinking about it...

This is Lulu Cruz – she is imagining …

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Seriously – the rest of you need to use your imagination! Think!

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Here is a scene I imagine:

wrinkle sideways freckleface

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I think I can safely say that at least 98% of the people that populate the Universe are always searching for things to do. We search and search and search.

This is PK ... searching...

This is PK … this time he is searching for something to do …

Maybe you can help me help others find something to do!

In keeping with the theme of the article, why don’t we restrict our help to live performance suggestions, including performances in theatre, dance or music. Have you ever seen or been a part of a family-friendly show that you love?

(I only want family-friendly as this is a G-rated blog!)

If so, please comment on this post and let the rest of us know so we can fill up those theatre seats.

View from the stage at Riverside

View from the stage at Riverside

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Be sure to stay tuned for my next article on environmental sustainability!

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Until next time…

I’m turning off the turnip truck.

T

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