Throwback Thursday: Treasure Island

Here’s a cool flyer from the archives: the cast and crew of the Children’s Theatre of Maine’s Treasure Island! In 1985, the Children’s Theatre produced Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic swashbuckling adventure story for the public. The show was adapted by Rae N. Simmonds, who also served as musical director on the production; it was directed by Jeff Toorish.

30 years later, we’re gearing up for this April’s Robin Hood, another timeless tale of action and adventure. As an additional throwback, we revisited Robert Louis Stevenson just last year, in A Child’s Garden of Verses, an interactive performance that traveled throughout the museum and to local farmers’ markets. A Child’s Garden of Verses was performed by four local adult actors, who helped bring Stevenson’s 120-year-old poetry to life for modern families.

In addition to the cast and crew list, the Treasure Island flyer makes a statement that still rings true today. Here’s a transcription, in case the flyer text below is a bit tricky to read:

“There is a common myth that theatre for children is inferior or easier to accomplish than other theatrical forms. That notion could not be further from the truth. Children’s Theatre encompasses all aspects inherent in all theatrical endeavor[s]; and indeed has facets not found in any other. We must not only keep our shows entertaining and moving. We must also educate. Our audiences–the children–do not yet have the learned skills to know when or how to react. It is part of our job to teach them.”

Today, as the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, our casts and crews of actors ages 8 to 17, and local theatre professionals directing actors and designing various elements of the shows, continue to entertain as well as educate, providing what might be a child’s first ever experience at the theatre. Children may see a show and learn something new, or perhaps wish to jump up onstage themselves, whether in a stage story during museum opening hours, on their own in the Dress Up Theatre, or in a theatre production in our mainstage season.

We hope to see you at Robin Hood this spring – performances begin April 17th!


Throwback Thursday: James and the Giant Peach

While we make preparations to head into Wonka Weekend this Saturday and Sunday in anticipation of our production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (opening February 13th), we’re also taking this moment to pause and reflect back to the last time the words and fantastic characters of Roald Dahl graced our Dress Up Theatre Stage.

This may be the first time our actors have taken our audience into the famous Chocolate Factory, but, in our history as both the Museum and Theatre – and of course as the Museum & Theatre we are today – we love celebrating and performing Roald Dahl. The museum has hosted readings and events for Dahl’s birthday (September 13th – he’d be 98 if he were still alive!), and his characters have come to life on our stage in two recent occasions.

The Children’s Theatre of Maine performed James and the Giant Peach in the fall of 1992, ten years after Richard George first published the stage adaptation of Dahl’s 1961 children’s book.

Cast of James and the Giant Peach, Children's Theatre of Maine, 1992
Cast of James and the Giant Peach, Children’s Theatre of Maine, 1992

And only four years ago (exactly!), we were loading our giant peach into the Dress Up Theatre along with shadow puppet scrims, pieces of clouds, magic beans, and everything else needed for the February 2011 production of James. Catching the eye of some of our community friends, cast members were interviewed on WCSH6’s tv program 207 and in print in the Current, which stated, “For children, the opportunity to act in a play or musical can be transformative.”*

What better stories to help actors take on such a transformative challenge onstage than those of Roald Dahl? His magical, timeless stories are enjoyed by children and adults alike, which is one of the reasons we’re always so happy to revisit them!

Check out some photos from the 2011 production of James and the Giant Peach below! We hope you’ll join us in the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s premiere of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory next week!



(As an added throwback, we have three 2011 Peach cast members returning for the Chocolate Factory: Mae Livermore, who played the Glow Worm, returns as the gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde; Brooks Ewald, who juggled multiple roles including the Captain of the Navy in Peach returns as Veruca’s father Mr. Salt; and Michela Micalizio, who played the Earthworm, is working behind the scenes as a designer in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)


*[Source: Kelly, Michael; Cape, Scarborough, South Portland Actors Among “Peach” Cast; February 16, 2011.]

Throwback Thursday: Theatre Anniversary!

Did you know that it’s been seven years since the first time the Children’s Theatre performed at the Children’s Museum? Today, as the Children’s Museum & Theatre, we’re opening our holiday production of Beatrix Potter’s Christmas, by Thomas W. Olson, in which lots of different animals from Beatrix Potter’s lively imagination scurry about the stage, from mice and squirrels to ducks and kittens.

Seven years ago, in Theatre Artistic Director Reba Short’s Kitchen Table Fables, another ensemble of mice, among other animals, performed tales from Aesop – the very first production to take place in our Dress Up Theatre. (If you see Beatrix Potter’s Christmas, you’ll even see one of the original Fables cast members!) Following the summer’s production Odd at Sea, which was performed on the pirate ship in our outdoor Shipyard, Fables centered around the story of the Grasshopper and the Ant, with other familiar animals from Aesop’s stories working as a community to bring charming tales to life in the Ant’s kitchen.

In the Portland Phoenix, Theatre writer Megan Grumbling emphasized that a “particularly lovely implication of the show’s story…  is that art is just as important a commodity as food or wealth.”

Happy 7th anniversary to Dress Up Theatre productions! You can catch Beatrix Potter’s Christmas onstage December 11th-22nd, 2014.


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[Source: The Portland Phoenix, 12 December 2007.]

[Photo source: CMTM archive.]