Meet Charlie Brown, a self-proclaimed loser who’s never received a Valentine, never won a Little League Game, and never flown a kite. Today is a typical day in his life; from getting up in the morning and being late for school, to seeing the cute little red haired girl at lunch but being too terrified to talk to her, and ending the day with finding happiness in the comfort of his friends.
Speaking of friends, this Peanuts Gang is just as complex as our hero! Lucy is unapologetically honest and offers advice for a price. Blanket-toting Linus is savvy and wise. Sally hops from one surprising realization to the next as if she’s jumping rope. Schroeder strives to cultivate the drive and passion of the great composers he admires. Snoopy has the power to transform worlds with his imagination. Together they’ve inspired generations of children from the original ink drawing by Charles Schultz published for the first time in 1955.
With two casts, twenty-two actors, eight songs, three theatre educators and twelve kazoos, we have thrown ourselves completely into this play since the beginning of January. Rehearsals have consisted of singing, dancing, soul searching and team building. I’m always inspired by our actor’s ability to dive into material whether it’s a light-hearted fairy-tale or a Roald Dahl comedy. In this play I was especially impressed by the shared empathy and communal knowledge of the themes. Every single one of us could relate to the ups and downs Charlie Brown experiences throughout the day, it’s what makes us human.
While Charlie Brown and his gang talk about rejection, depression and the question their existence, they also jump rope, fly kites and play baseball. In rehearsal I was constantly reminded there’s no such thing as adult problems or kid problems. We all look at the world in unique ways, we’re all deep thinkers, and we all offer a unique perspective. These songs and vignettes, in all their simplicity, remind us of the resilience inside each of us, no matter how old we are.
Every year, we reindeer put on a variety show before loading up the sleigh. The stage summons our magic, surges our energy and brings us together. Vixen does card tricks. Comet tells jokes. Donner recites ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.When Dancer and Prancer are getting along, they usually do a tap routine. This year, I challenged my crew to explore something different. If we can pull a heavy sleigh, we can put on a whole play! We can use our reindeer magic to play timeless characters with our hooves and with our hearts. This year’s play? The Nutcracker! A ballet, a symphony, and now… a realistic drama, told reindeer style!
We beg you to imagine yourself in St. Petersburg, Russia, 1892, in the small workshop of a toymaker named Drosselmeyer. Not just a toymaker, Drosselmeyer is also a clock maker and a mouse catcher. On Christmas Eve, his nephew, a young prince, comes to visit. But lo and behold – before Drosselmeyer’s one good eye an evil sorcerer turns his nephew into… a NUTCRACKER! To become human again, the Nutcracker must defeat the Mouse King, travel to far off lands, and fall in love with a beautiful maiden. Impossible? Not if you find yourself in a child’s dream! Drosselmeyer the Toymaker gives the Nutcracker to a young girl named Clara, in hopes that she will help the Nutcracker complete his tasks to be human again.
Join us for this reindeer tail of magic and wonder. Only magical flying reindeer can write, dance, choreograph and stage as complex a yarn as The Nutcracker. We’ve worked hard on these weeks leading up to Christmas. Without these elves Maud, Eli and Murray taking time off from building toys, the play would never be possible. Thank you Dasher, for keeping us on track as the Stage Manager. Thank you for coming, you elves and reindeer in the audience. Happy holidays and enjoy the show!
Your Esteemed Director,
Rudy the Red
Interested in seeing the show? Click here, call 1-800-838-3006, or stop by the front desk during your next visit to get tickets!
“Oh, is my tongue blue?” Here’s what our Theatre Artistic Director and director of our production of The Witches has to say about the play… Want to see more? Get your tickets to The Witcheshere and for our own special interactive adaptation of the story for preschool ages, How to Spot a Witch,here!
From the Artistic Director, Reba Short:
Why would a theatre company produce The Witches anyway? The themes are dark, the images are gruesome; for goodness’ sake, there’s a chorus of witches talking about crunching children’s bones! The Grandmother in the story seems alright, but she’s smoking black cigars! How could this possibly be a children’s play? Has the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine lost all its good sense?!
As Theatre Artistic Director, I say not in the least! We are producing the work of Roald Dahl, hailed as one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century. He received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1983, and Children’s Author of the Year from the British Book Awards in 1990. The themes in Dahl’s books are so dark, they’re funny. The witches are so terrible, they’re loveable. The plots are so preposterous, they can’t be serious, and they aren’t, at all. That’s Dahl’s magic as a storyteller. He pushes the boundaries of his make-believe world to its furthest corners, and then keeps pushing. His imagination goes to dark and wild places, and he invites the young reader with him and counts on them to know what is fantasy. Today we are asking the same of you, our audience. Join us for this wild and awful annual convention of witches and know that it’s just pretend.
My favorite part of Roald Dahl’s books are his heroes. Always unlikely, they may seem weak at first. They are usually children who use courage and cleverness to become strong. In our play, it’s a small-boy-turned-mouse that receives the call to adventure. (It would be impossible to find a smaller hero!) If the witchy plot wasn’t so awful, it wouldn’t be necessary for the boy-mouse to save the children at all. This is a story that begs the audience not to take it too seriously, but to find inspiration in the acts of courage and magical ways that the even small heroes can save the world.
For many people, Shakespeare can feel like a foreign language. Some are intimidated by the length of the plays; the big words and strange contractions. On the page, Shakespeare can feel daunting, but the key is to speak it aloud. Shakespeare is meant to be played.
I’ve been wanting to produce Shakespeare here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine for a long time. After reading Ken Ludwig’s book, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, and cutting edge research from the Royal Shakespeare Company relating to Shakespeare and early literacy, I finally felt we were ready. It’s never too late to become familiar with this language and these stories. The Museum & Theatre is the perfect place for the synchronization of young actors approaching the material for the first time, and a young audience discovering the magic of these stories.
With the generous help of our long-time friend and supporter, the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, we have enhanced this production beyond our normal capacity. We hired guest directors, and it has been a pleasure to watch Allison, Marjolaine and Kristen bring us to new depths as actors and designers. We offered Shakespeare acting workshops, hosted “Shakespeariments” with young visitors and had a whole Shakespeare themed summer here at the Museum & Theatre. I am excited to continue this work beyond the summer. I think our work with Shakespeare and early literacy development has only just begun!
Now all that’s missing is you, the audience. Young children are constantly learning new words, and they approach vocabulary fearlessly. A young audience watches before they listen, identifies with the movement on the stage and takes in characters at face value. I eagerly await the young audience members filling the seats of the Dress Up Theater, encountering these magical stories for the very first time!
Discover a shipwreck, find a witch’s spell, and meet a donkey who was once a man! In our summer production of Shakespeare’s Stories, we will perform shortened adaptations of The Tempest, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and discover the magic of Shakespeare’s original language.
Wizards, witches, fairies and kids all come together to celebrate the historical works of theatre’s most notorious playwright. This project is part of our summer Shakespeare celebration, proving it’s never too early (or too late!) to learn some Shakespeare!
Based on the original stories of William Shakespeare, adapted by Allison McCall, Kristen Voyvodich, Marjolaine Whittlesey, and Reba Short. This production is possible with the generous support of the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust.
Wednesday, July 22 / show at 6pm (7pm Gala)
Thursday, July 23 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Friday July, 24 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Saturday, July 25 / show at 11am
Sunday July, 26 / show at 2pm
Wednesday, July 29 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Thursday, July 30 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Friday, July 31 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Saturday, August 1 / show at 11am
Sunday, August 2nd / show at 2pm
Do you know what our actors love to do when they aren’t rehearsing? They play improv games, and they want to play some for you! In the spirit of shows like “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”, you’re invited to join us for games like “What are you doing?”, “Freeze” and “Bus stop!” We aren’t sure what will happen, but we guarantee you’ll laugh!
The Improv Troupe is sponsored by Yankee Restoration & Building.
$3/member, $4/visitor plus admission. For tickets call 828-1234 x231 or stop by the front desk.
“But wait, my child’s too young for Shakespeare!” At the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, we say “Nay!”
Young children are not intimidated by Shakespeare. The Royal Shakespeare Company claims Shakespeare should be taught early, four and five year olds are fearless and accustomed to trying out new language and learning new words. In fact, when children encounter Shakespeare at an early age, most of them become highly engaged in the rich and playful language, the stories, and the complex characters.
In a creative and playful setting, Shakespeare’s text can be used to engage and ignite young children with creative word play and vocabulary building. The stories themselves tap into the imagination in imaginative and often archetypal ways. 85% of brain development occurs by age three. A child’s level of language and early literacy skill development in the first five years of life are indicative of future success in school and the workforce.
By exposing young children to Shakespearean text early, we hope to encourage a love of literacy and a fearless drive towards language comprehension.
As many of you know, we just wrapped a fantastic production of “Robin Hood” here at the Museum & Theatre. It was a truly hysterical play written specifically for our Theatre by Brett Askari, and we enjoyed a great run of capacity audiences over the past week and a half.
One standout of this production is our friend Brooks, one of the young actors on stage in “Robin Hood.” Brooks may be a familar name and face to those who come to our Theatre regularly, as Brooks has been in no less than 19 SHOWS during his 9 year run with us here. WOW!
We hope that this isn’t Brooks’ last show with us, as talent like his is a gift to everyone!
Please congratulate Brooks on a his work on “Robin Hood,” and so many more over the years. Thank you, Brooks, for being such a great part of what we do here.
Last Friday we presented a few scenes from Robin Hood for our friends at Portland Public Library! We also played an interactive game with the audience called “foot soldier” / “food cart”. Here are some pictures from our game! (The guys in the hats are Robin Hood and Little John, played by Max Cromwell and Oliver Hettenbach!) We’re looking forward to opening night!