Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Making it their own

Eleanor Drury Children's Theatre sure knows how to generate publicity because their production of The Enchanted Bookshop just got another great write-up, this time on the website Thunder Bay News Watch.

As it turns out, The Enchanted Bookshop is one of the first shows they've ever done that was not a widely known classic like Cinderella and The Jungle Book. But they decided to take a chance on it because of the many familiar characters.

"I think it's a lot different," Sarah Hughes, who plays Margie, says. "Normally we do stories you already know, but in this case, you don't know, and it's fun to find out."

What's more, director Aleksa Shermack gave the kids plenty of room to make the show their own, by creating their own choreography.

"We work really with the youth involved to create a show unique to the talents that we have in the show and the talents of the kids and youth involved," she said. "We include songs, media pieces, and dances that are heavily influenced and choreographed or arranged by the actual youth involved."

Sounds like an amazing experience to me. Break legs, guys. I know you're in good hands.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Pure imagination


The release of The Enchanted Bookshop--The Musical is still several months off, but progress is being made. Composer Stephen Murray tells me he has written 11 songs and is currently preparing the piano and vocal scores.

And yet some people just can't wait. Exhibit A: This Ontario production of The Enchanted Bookshop. Eleanor Drury Children's Theatre has taken the published script of the play and added two songs, giving the young actors an opportunity to show off their singing and dancing skills.

I think that's great. I'm always happy to see theatre companies tweak my scripts by adding an occasional song or character.

I was even happier to see that one of the songs they added is my favorite song from one of my favorite movies of all time, 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (forget Johnny Depp, Gene Wilder will always be the Candy Man to me).

No, not "Cheer Up, Charlie". The song they added is that ode to creativity, "Pure Imagination". What better song for a coterie of characters who depend on imagination to give them life?

Well, maybe the 11 songs specially composed for the script by Mr. Murray. They're coming, and you're going to love them. I promise!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

An enchanted trailer

I'm really loving this trailer that the students at a Alabama high school put together for this weekend's performance of The Enchanted Bookshop. Between the lush music, dynamic camerawork and spooky voiceover, it's extremely well-done. In fact, it's so spooky it almost makes the show look like a Harry Potter movie.

Break legs, everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Costume ideas for that book lover in you

Need some last minute costume ideas for Halloween (or any time, really)? In honor of their upcoming auditions for The Enchanted Bookshop, Encore Stage & Studio in Alexandria, VA offers some literary suggestions from their theatrical past.

Me? I'll be going as one of my favorite literary characters.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Reading for dollars (and much much more!)

Schools and theater companies across the country have gotten creative using The Enchanted Bookshop to encourage kids to read. And now our neighbor to the north is getting in on the act.

Eleanor Drury Children's Theatre of Thunder Bay, Ontario is launching a read-a-thon for students in this vibrant city on the shores of Lake Superior. From October 22 to November 16, participants are asked to log all books they read on this online form, and at the end of the contest, the most active readers will win up $50 cash (that'll buy a lot of books!) and four tickets to the show.

I'm especially glad that they're using this contest to shine a light on local authors. I used to be heavily involved with the Colorado children's book writer community and I know that a lot of those authors struggled to get the word out about their books, books that were just as compelling, entertaining and just plain fun as any title on the bestseller list.

The best part about this contest? Everybody wins. Even those who don't take home the big prize will discover books they wouldn't have known about otherwise. And that's worth more than any $50 check.

Good luck, everybody! And if you need some reading suggestions, check out these books favored by the actors in the show:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Show Me State Bookshop shows how it's done

I just came across this performance of The Enchanted Bookshop by South Valley Middle School in Liberty, MO. I've posted several recordings of this play over the last year, but I wanted to make a special mention of this one because the cast does an especially good job bringing out the humor in the script.

You've got to go big with these characters, and these kids do. The result? Some of the biggest laughs I've heard for this show.

Nice job, everybody!

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Enchanted Bookshop sings!

Growing up in the small town of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, I didn't get much of a chance to see Broadway shows or national touring productions. But the town did have a movie theater, and three times a year, the manager closed the curtain over the screen, removed the first few rows of seats and built out the stage so that the local community theater could put on a show.

The community theater produced a ton of plays over the years, but it was the musicals I loved the most. Fiddler on the Roof. MameCamelot. They were all so big and full of life. And I remember thinking, even then, that those shows were better than anything I'd seen on that movie screen behind them.

Which is all just a roundabout way of telling you how excited I am that Pioneer Drama Service has decided to turn The Enchanted Bookshop into a musical.

I've always wanted to write a musical. There's just one small problem. I don't know the first thing about writing music.

But Stephen Murray does. He's the Massachusetts composer who Pioneer paired me up with. Stephen has decades of experience writing musicals, and his songs have a fun, bouncy quality that make them perfect for the school market. I can't wait to see what he comes up with for The Enchanted Bookshop.

No word yet on when the musical will be released, but Stephen is working on the score as we speak so I expect it'll come out in 2019, probably in time for the new school year. Of course, when it does come out, you'll hear it here first, so keep coming back!