HOUSTON -- Chelsey Krohn, director of Early Stages, the children's theater branch of Stages Repertory Theatre, has announced its 1998-99 season for young people. And a rainbow of shows it is.
In October 1998, Little Red Riding Hood ventures deep into the woods to get to grandmother's house, singing and dancing all through her adventures since the adaptation is a brand new musical with book and lyrics by Sidney Berger and music by Rob Landes, a celebrated team of children's theater writers based in Houston.
For the holidays, The Toys Take Over Christmas, courtesy of playwright Patricia Clapp, not to mention Sunny, the ragdoll character she creates who comes to life and helps a toymaker bring joy to the little ones.
In February and March 1999, to honor Black History Month, Sundiata, an African tale of the Lion King, a play by Kim Hines, rules the theatrical kingdom. Born crippled, Sundiata, the title character, goes through a rites of passage and in manhood leads his people with justice and wisdom.
The Missing Heart is found in April and May 1999. An original musical by Sterling Tinsley, it is a tale about a missing heart locket involving a Country Western singer and a pair of comical space creatures and a plucky heroine. Sleeping Beauty is roused June and July 1999. In Barbara Fried's play adaptation, the audience helps the Prince elude the Evil Fairy and locate the Princess. Is it politically correct that there's a Fairy Godfather?
There is no overarching theme to the upcoming season. On purpose. "One of my objectives is to offer a variety of kinds of shows," Krohn said, "since Houston is a multi-cultural city. We are doing well-known fairy tales, an ethnic piece in the African vein, and new work." In future seasons Krohn, who's finishing up the first year of her Early Stages tenure, hopes to add a bilingual show for Spanish-speaking audiences, given Houston's large Hispanic population.
Early Stages is theater for children ages 4-10. "A lot of children's theater talks down to children," Krohn said. "Our goal is to do what 'Sesame Street' does: not pander. This is partly why we use professional actors."
Success might be found in numbers: some 20,000 children attend Early Stages each year.
For information about Early Stages, call (713) 52-STAGE
-- By Peter Szatmary