Thanking the foundations that helped us put on “New Clothes!”

By now, we hope you’ve heard all about our ongoing shows in the Dress Up Theatre, Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes. But have you heard of the New Clothes Collaboration?

Cast members of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” participate in a peer critique, while "Cinderella" musician Jeffrey Sheerer looks on.

When these two shows were selected many months ago, we thought of so many ways all kinds of artists in our community could make valuable contributions. Having professional musicians, costume designers and playwrights contribute their expertise would not only yield great shows on our stage, but would provide our young actors with a unique opportunity to explore their talents under the mentorship of working artists. We developed a proposal for the New Clothes Collaboration: pairing young actors with guest artists from Portland’s thriving theatre community to design, direct, score, rehearse and perform Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

The "Cinderella" royals. Sebastian Grimm as Andre, Gabe Walker as Prince Louis and Elias Grimm as the King.

Thanks to the support of the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust, the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust and the Simmons Foundation, we were able to make this dream a reality! Our casts (all under fifteen years old!) have worked closely with director Claire Guyer, choreographer Gretchen Berg, costume designer Christina Klein, lighting designer Nicole Sirois and musicians Jeffrey Sheerer, Gregory Reed and Shawn Cole to bring scripts by Michele Livermore Wigton to life on our stage.

We’re so grateful for the generosity of the Burnham, Morton-Kelly and Simmons foundations for making this project possible. We’d also like to tip our hats to our show sponsors: the Neudek family (Debby, Tom and Alexandra); Andrucki & Mitchell Family Law of Lewiston; and Sudzie Autowash of Scarborough.

As anyone who has caught the shows can tell you, the New Clothes Collaboration yielded magical results!

Be sure to catch both shows, playing alternating weekends through March 21st. Shows are selling out, so click here to get your tickets in advance!

Update: Cinderella & The Emperor’s New Clothes

Cinderella opened this weekend to sold out crowds! It was great to see so many girls coming to the shows dressed as Cinderella.

Cinderella (Christian Rowe), Stepmother Calvina (Alexandra Neudek) and Stepsisters Clio & Claudette (Julia Swett & Lilly Walker)

I think there might be some confusion about our Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes show dates! Sunday was not the final performance of Cinderella, there is still a chance to catch it again March 11-14. The Emperor’s New Clothes opens this week and again March 18-21. Below are all the performance dates:

The Emperor’s New Clothes

  • Thursday, March 4 at 4pm
  • Friday, March 5 at 4pm
  • Saturday, March 6 at 1pm & 4pm
  • Sunday, March 7 at 1pm & 4pm
  • Thursday, March 18 at 4pm
  • Friday, March 19 at 4pm
  • Saturday, March 20 at 1pm & 4pm
  • Sunday, March 21 at 1pm & 4pm

Cinderella

  • Thursday, March 11 at 4pm
  • Friday, March 12 at 4pm
  • Saturday, March 13 at 1pm & 4pm
  • Sunday, March 14 at 1pm & 4pm

Click here to buy tickets  to both shows!

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Sneak peek at Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes: Sets!

If you’ve visited the Dress Up Theatre in the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that the familiar square stage has been replaced by some new sets and platforms of all shapes and sizes.  Chris Fitze, Exhibits and Operations Associate, and Shawn Cole, Exhibits and Operations Intern, have created these pieces for the upcoming productions of Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Clothes, running in February and March. (Get your tickets here!)

In addition to working on Exhibits and Operations at the Museum & Theatre, Chris Fitze has done behind-the-scenes work for local theatres. He’s been involved in the design, construction or installation of the sets for every onsite production since the Children’s Theatre merged with the Children’s Museum. I asked him a few questions about how these versatile sets are created, and he gave me some very enlightening answers!

Who comes up with the idea for the set?  Is it the playwright?  The director?  The people who build it?

Friday, 2/5: Chris and Reba (Theatre Artistic Director) try out the turntable that supports the rotating throne.

It’s a little of all three. Every playwright that writes a play has a setting in mind. Even if it’s a general as “the woods” or “in a house,” the playwright needs to know where the characters are, so she can know how they will interact in with their environment. Some playwrights will be very specific and even include a detailed drawing of the set!

The director, having read the play, will also come up with ideas for the set. Some directors may want to pick a different era that the play takes place in. Or they may want to use a particular style. At the Children’s Museum & Theatre, we meet early on with the director (usually before the play is even cast!) to talk about set design.

The people who build the set here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre have much more say in the overall design than at other theaters. Partly because the set needs to be built in such a way that it will hold up to the rigors of day-to-day activity at the Museum & Theatre, and partly because the people building the set probably helped to design it! Continue reading