Friday, May 8, Overture Center Playhouse, 7 pm
Are your wee ones getting spring fever? Cure it with this delightful show, adapted from Margery Williams’ classic tale of a stuffed rabbit that yearns to be real. Full of fun and laughter, this play touches on love and friendship, promising to leave a smile on your face. Suitable for ages 4-plus. ALSO: Saturday and Sunday (1 & 4 pm), May 9-10. Through May 17.
The Velveteen Rabbit
Local and regional talent bring classic story to life
May 8 - May 17, 2015
The Playhouse at Overture Center for the Arts
Based on the book by Margery Williams
Adapted by Phil Grecian
Directed by Roseann Sheridan
CTM (Children’s Theater of Madison) presents The Velveteen Rabbit May 8-17 as the finale for its 49th season. True to the classic children’s book by Margery Williams, this stage adaptation tells the tender story of a young boy’s special companion – a velveteen rabbit. With the help of his toy friends and the magic Toy Fairy, the rabbit learns the true meaning of love, friendship and being “real” in this play filled with humor and heart.
CTM’s Artistic Director, Roseann Sheridan, directs The Velveteen Rabbit. “We are so proud to bring this cherished story to our audience,” says Sheridan. “The magic and joy of The Velveteen Rabbit appeals to all ages, and we hope that multi-generational families come together to enjoy this touching tale of compassion and empathy. It’s a story that so many of us remember from childhood, before the movie Toy Story, but very similar to the style of Toy Story – witty, funny, touching -- with great characters and Toy Story’s fun and poignancy.”
CTM’s casting philosophy is to cast actors in age-appropriate roles, and to anchor the show in adult talent. This method is commonly used by professional theatre for young audiences (TYA) companies. For roles where age is not critical, CTM uses a mixture of adult and child actors. The Velveteen Rabbit features fourth-generation actor Teddy Warren in the title role. Warren (24), a Milwaukee native, has appeared in many productions at First Stage Children’s Theater in Milwaukee, where he was a graduate of their acclaimed Academy. Warren graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Acting and has been working professionally in the Midwest and Dallas. Following his run with CTM, Mr. Warren goes to Dallas Shakespeare Theater to play Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet.
Other adult actors new to CTM include Reggie Kellum as Bulka the Rag Puppy, Mitch Taylor as Timothy the Lion, Greg Hudson as the Skin Horse, and Dave Pausch as the Doctor. Returning adult actors Toya Robinson plays the Toy Fairy and Terry Kiss-Frank plays Nana. Child actors include: Max Vitale (11) as Alex and Lily Mefford (11) as Mouse. Seven additional children play the roles of the “real” rabbits.
CTM’s Artistic Director says “I’m excited to work with this diverse and talented cast. It’s really important to bring in actors in their 20’s to play these kinds of roles (toys and animals) in a show like this. It anchors the production and makes characters that the youngest audience members can both look up to and relate to at the same time. It’s like having a “big brother” to play with. We’re really fortunate to have Teddy (Warren) with us for this show. His experience working in TYA shows is invaluable. He understands how to play with animation without being condescending. That’s extremely important to me in working on shows for our very young audiences.”
As part of CTM’s ongoing Accessibility Initiative, CTM is providing both an ASL-interpreted performance and a sensory-friendly performance. The Friday May 8th performance at 7pm will be ASL-interpreted for the hearing impaired. A sensory-friendly performance for youth on the autism spectrum and their families will be presented on Friday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m. CTM’s Accessibility Initiative is a multi-faceted effort to broaden, deepen, and diversify CTM’s audiences while engaging, educating, and inspiring the next generation of theater-lovers. Efforts include ongoing partnerships with: the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin; the Madison Children’s Museum and the pilot program called Play & A Play; and no-cost afterschool classes held at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County and the Goodman Community Center. Danielle Tolzmann, President of The Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin says, “We’re so thankful for our continued partnership with the Children’s Theater of Madison to offer this very special performance. Theater is magical and wonderful but might not be accessible to our families without these modifications.” The sensory-friendly offering is also made possible through the support of the following sponsors: The Capital Times Kids Fund, The Evjue Foundation, the Wisconsin Arts Board, Madison Community Foundation, BMO Harris Bank, Tri-North, American Girl’s Fund for Children and Endres Manufacturing Company. Tickets are available directly through the South Central Autism Society’s website at autismsouthcentral.org.
Joe Varga is the show’s set designer. Monica Cliff, a puppet designer whose work was seen in Midsummer Night’s Dream and James and the Giant Peach, is costume and toy designer. John Pennisten is Lighting Designer and and GW Rodriguez is designing the production’s sound.
The Velveteen Rabbit will be performed in The Playhouse at Overture Center for the Arts. Performances are Friday, May 8 at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 9 at 1 and 4 p.m., Sunday, May 10 at 1 and 4 p.m., Saturday, May 16 at 1 and 4 p.m., and Sunday, May 17 at 1 and 4 p.m. On Friday, May 8 at 6 p.m., there will be an opening night pre-performance party. There will be arts & crafts activities and refreshments. That evening’s performance will also be ASL-interpreted for the hearing impaired. Tickets for public performances may be purchased through the CTM website (ctmtheater.org), Overture Center’s website (overturecenter.com), by phone at 608-258-4141, or in person at the Overture Center Box office. Tickets are $18 for children 12 and under and $29 for adults. The suggested age for the show is 4 and up.