Child’s play: Family-friendly theater in unexpected places
By Stephanie Merry
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
After a Helen Hayes recommendation and the box-office success of last season’s “Jack and the Bean-Stalk,” the powers that be at First Draft and 1st Stage decided to give the kid-friendly collaboration another go.
Playwright Mario Baldessari and director Kobylinski are once again teaming up, this time to tell the tale of Goldilocks’s search for the perfect porridge, chair and bed. But audiences can expect a few twists — this “Three Bears” is an a capella musical, and Goldilocks, er, Sergeant Goldilocks, is played by actor Gannon O’Brien.
“It’s a lot of laughs,” Kobylinski says. “And it’s definitely aimed at a younger audience, but there are plenty of laughs for adults. In fact, probably far more than kids ever realize.”
That’s one of the most important ingredients for a successful show, according to Kobylinski, who calls this brand of theater “programming for kids and their families” to hammer home the point that all parties need to be entertained. That includes the most difficult-to-please audience members: teenagers. Luckily, Kobylinski says, some of the high school set took a liking to last season’s show.
“I think they were surprised, because a lot of them were sort of arms crossed, ‘Really? I’m going to sit through “Jack and the Bean-Stalk?” ’ And by the end they were laughing their heads off,” she says.
That being said, the production is not without challenges. Like “Jack,” “Three Bears” will run concurrently with another 1st Stage production, which means the kids show will share a set with the adults-only “Almost, Maine.”
But the potential benefits far outweigh the obstacles.
“If we’re an audience-building organization, that’s the newest audience we can get,” Kobylinski says, referring to First Draft’s mission. “That’s the future of theater.”
Best for age 5 and older