The Coterie Theatre's 29th season of family-friendly theatre will boast a world premiere musical by songwriter Harry Connick, Jr.
The nationally recognized resident professional children's theatre in Kansas City, MO, known for its new musicals laboratory (giving birth to new works by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Stephen Schwartz and other writers and composers), will stage Connick's The Happy Elf during the holidays.
Also planned for 2007-08 is a stage version of the B-movie horror classic, Night of the Living Dead.
Coterie will also present the premiere of a new theatre-for-young-audiences version of Ahrens & Flaherty's Once On This Island. The team's Twice Upon a Time: The Lorax and The Emperor's New Clothes will bow there June 26 for a summer run.
"Coterie audiences will find a season of plays that are lively and eclectic, as we perform for audiences of all ages," producing artistic director Jeff Church said in a statement. "We're also very proud of our Lab for New Family Musicals, which has two pieces in development: a new musical by Harry Connick, Jr., and, for our 30th anniversary kick-off, a new version of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's popular Once On This Island."
The 2007-08 Coterie Theatre season follows.
A Star Ain't Nothin' But a Hole in Heaven (Sept. 25-Oct. 14) by Judi Ann Mason, directed by Jeff Church. Preteen/Young Adult Series. "In rural Louisiana in 1969, Pokie's scholarship to an Ohio college is momentous. But if she accepts it, her fragile uncle and dying aunt will be left alone on the farm. Filled with laughter and empathy, this exquisite drama won the Kennedy Center's Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award for its exploration of loss and gain during the civil rights era."
Night of the Living Dead (Oct. 18-28), from George Romero's classic film, directed by Ron Megee. Preteen/Young Adult Series. "It's true: On-stage zombies will walk among you in Night of the Living Dead. Seven people trapped in an isolated farmhouse, held hostage by the flesh-eating dead, begin to turn on each other as the dead encroach. B-movie horror brought to life! (So to speak.)"
Harry Connick Jr.'s The Happy Elf (Nov. 13-Dec. 28), music by Harry Connick Jr., book by Andrew Fishman, directed by Jeff Church and Molly Jessup. Family series. "Grammy winner Harry Connick, Jr. creates a joyous live-jazz musical about Eubie, a North Pole elf whose constant exuberance wears others out but whose energy gives Santa an idea. He sends Eubie to isolated Bluesville, where joy is squelched by the repressive town authority. There, Eubie meets up with a secret movement to bring happiness to Bluesville, and ultimately does Santa proud. The fifth musical to be developed in the Coterie's Lab for New Family Musicals."
In Spite of Thunder: The Macbeth Project (Jan. 22-Feb. 15, 2008), adapted from Shakespeare by Suzan L. Zeder & Jim Hancock, directed by Sidonie Garrett. Preteen/Young Adult Series. "As the roles of Lord and Lady Macbeth rotate among all members of the ensemble, the characters rise from a rich witches' brew, asking questions of complicity in an unbroken cycle of violence. Prophecies of ambition and betrayal, plus the spectacle of theatrical transformation, will create the most powerful and dynamic of Coterie productions. Produced in cooperation with UMKC Theatre."
A Separate Peace (March 4-22, 2008) by Faulkner Award winner John Knowles, adapted by Nancy Gilsenan, directed by Jeff Church. Preteen/Young Adult Series. "Just before World War II, Gene attends summer session at a private school to get his diploma before being drafted. There he meets Finny, an exceptional athlete and a consummate charmer, whose remarkable love for life defies the reality of draft boards and battleships and challenges the adult world. Although the era and anxiety belong to 1942, the search for a 'special and separate peace' is timeless."
The Coterie's Young Playwrights' Festival (April 24, 2008). "A Celebration of New Works by Kansas City's most talented teens. The festival showcases a collection of select short plays and monologues by teen members of the Coterie's Young Playwrights' Roundtable. Each piece is given a staged reading by professional actors, directors and designers overseen by Jeff Church. Most appreciated by teens and adults."
Sideways Stories from Wayside School (April 8-May 18, 2008) by Newbery Award-winning author Louis Sachar, adapted by John Olive, directed by Missy Koonce. Family Series. "It's the funniest school in the universe, where the oddest things can happen! Tornado drills are the norm (for good reason). Public address systems sprout mouths and tongues and warn of wandering cows. Get a load of the teachers: from wicked Mrs. Gorf, who turns kids into apples and threatens to bake a pie, to Miss Jewls, who conducts an orchestra of imaginary instruments. You'll be delirious with laughter–no matter your age."
Once On This Island (June 24-Aug. 3, 2008), book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty, directed by Jeff Church and Molly Jessup. Family Series. "Premiere [of the] theatre for young audience's version [of the] magical musical [that] is a calypso-flavored twist on the traditional 'Little Mermaid' tale, now set on a Caribbean island! Here we have the story of Ti Moune, a poor peasant girl who falls in love with Daniel, a young man from a wealthy family whose life she saves after a car crash. When Daniel is returned to his people, the gods who rule the island guide Ti Moune on a quest to test the strength of her love against the powerful forces of prejudice. With its touching story and catchy pop and Caribbean inspired score by songwriters of the film 'Anastasia' and the Coterie smash hit Seussical, Once On This Island promises to be a multi-cultural feast for the heart, mind and soul." For more information, visit www.coterietheatre.org.