The run to Feb. 27 on SCR's Julianne Argyros Stage is part of the company's Theatre for Young Audiences program.
The Costa Mesa, CA, cast includes Jamey Hood (SCR's Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business and Imagine) as Serena and SCR newcomer Brian Ibsen as the Wolf/Narrator who becomes an agent to make Serena a star. Portraying the King and Queen (among other characters) are Tom Shelton (In the Next Room or the vibrator play and numerous Theatre for Young Audiences productions) and Amy Tolsky (Sideways Stories from Wayside School). Rounding out the cast as barnyard animals and New Duck City characters are Gloria Garayua (La Posada Mágica), Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper (Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business), and Renee Brna and Jeffrey Christopher Todd, making their SCR debuts.
Russell told Playbill.com on Feb. 10, "I could write a book about the complicated history of this piece, but I am delighted that this current version, which we adapted for young audiences, is having the success it is. It came about because Jeff Church, who runs the Coterie in Kansas City — a highly regarded TYA theatre — asked us if we'd be interested in creating a version for his theatre.
"Though children have always enjoyed the show, we weren't thinking of it as a kid's show when we wrote it. In fact, there were some edgy elements: for instance, when Serena, the ugly duckling, left her neighborhood barnyard to pursue fame in New Duck City, she ended up shimmying at a sleazy club called Poultry in Motion; that had to be excised in the children's version, as well as most of the ballads, which Jeff wisely cautioned us that kids tend not to sit still for. We also had to make the show 70 intermission-less minutes. Jeff was great about bringing us to Kansas City to work on it and has been a real champion at promoting it to other TYA. Theatres — including the TYA initiative at South Coast Rep." Russell added that both the children's version and the two-act adult version are available for licensing.
Director Manke returns to SCR after directing numerous productions, including the LADCC winner Bach at Leipzig and, most recently, Noises Off.
The production's creative ensemble consists of Fred Kinney (set design), Angela Balogh Calin (costume design), Jaymi Lee Smith (lighting design), Cricket Myers (sound design), John Glaudini (music director) and Jennifer Ellen Butler (stage manager).
For tickets and information, visit www.scr.org.