Summer Theatre offers 3 family classics
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, July 12, 2015
When it came time to plan for its 12th season, the Summer Theatre of New Canaan looked for a classic family tale that had been spruced up with a more contemporary story line for its Theatre for a Young Audience series.
When such a prize became hard to find, the team decided to create its own.
“Cinderella, A Fairy’s Tale,” a new musical adaptation of the classic fairy tale, recently premiered at the summer stage. As told by the fairy godmother, it features a more independent Cinderella whose journey teaches her the importance of kindness and courage — skills she eventually employs as a leader of her kingdom.
“We wanted to create a new version, a new adaptation of Cinderella that could appeal to children and adults,” said Ed Libonati, executive director of this nonprofit, professional regional theater company. “It has met with incredible success.”
The story was written by Melody Meitrott Libonati, the theater’s artistic director, who also co-wrote the lyrics with composer David Hancock Turner. “Children are more sophisticated at a younger age and need characters, music and a story line more in tune with today’s culture,” noted Melody Meitrott Libonati, in a recent news release.
There are new songs and new characters, even as familiar characters gain greater depth in this new piece — such as the two stepsisters.
“We made the characters more contemporary ... without sacrificing the true essence of the story that we all love,” said Ed Libonati. “It retains the message that if you are loving and kind, good things can happen to you. But, you have to put effort in to it to make it happen.”
With the July premiere of “Cinderella,” the theater company will be featuring three children’s programs through August. The other productions include “The Wizard of Oz,” through Sunday, Aug. 9, and “Charlotte’s Web,” through Saturday, Aug. 8
In the “Wizard of Oz,” eight actors play nearly 30 roles and use puppetry created by Norwalk artist Kevin Hanna. One such creature is the wizard, which takes three people to operate. Puppets also are used in “Charlotte’s Web,” as well as custom-designed masks by a Chicago artist, Jeff Semmerling. Actors also tell the tale of “Charlotte’s Web,” which is based on the book by E.B. White.
“The audience is getting a great dose of theater in many manifestations,” Libonati said, noting that in addition to the puppetry and masks, there is plenty of dramatic acting, musical theater and commedia dell’arte.
In addition to the young audience works, the Summer Theatre of New Canaan is showing “Legally Blonde The Musical,” through Aug. 9, at its all-weather, open air tent theater.
Christina.Hennessy@scni.com; Twitter @xtinahennessy