The five young cast members range in age from 12 to 15 and were selected from about 100 applicants in a year-long audition process. “You’re looking at true pros in young bodies,” said Bobbit.
Adventure Theatre and Musical Theater Center merged earlier this year to create Adventure Theatre MTC. While Musical Theater Center mainly held all-student performances with an adult cameo every now and then, Adventure offered professional productions of children’s shows. For the Adventure half of Adventure Theatre MTC, this is the first time since 2008 that a show features age-appropriate casting.
“There were times when we would do as many as seven a week,” said Bobbit of matinees in his time at Adventure Theatre. “It just became impossible to hire kids that could get off of school.”
Of the five kids in “Big,” two are home-schooled, and the rest are really, really busy. And they’re doing plenty of heavy dramatic lifting: There are only six adults in the cast.
The kid-friendly version of “Big,” adapted by Bobbit and Jeff Frank of First Stage, has whittled the Broadway show down from 2.5 hours to 70 minutes and eliminated some iffy language choices.
“I’m so curious to see how this works,” Bobbit said. “I think kids are going to be so glued into seeing kids who look like them on stage. . . . There’s an innocence and a heart to it, a simplicity to it, that I find really delightful. ”
Friday to Oct. 28, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, 301-634-2270, adventuretheatre-mtc.org.
‘Fly’ set to soar at Ford’s
The Tuskegee Airmen were a World War II pursuit squadron composed entirely of African Americans. Before 1940, African Americans were prohibited from flying for the U.S. military. Disproving the theory of the era that claimed blacks lacked the courage and intelligence required to fly airplanes, the Tuskegee Airmen flew throughout World War II, trailblazing (or, more appropriately, sky-blazing) the way for an integration of the military.
It’s a good story. But when Ricardo Khan, director of “Fly” at Ford’s Theatre, saw a photo of the Tuskegee Airmen on the wall of a colleague’s house, Khan had no idea who they were.
“It just hit me: Number one, I’m supposed to know about these people and I don’t,” Khan said. “They’re part of the celebration of our legacy . . . because of the doors that they not just opened for us, but kicked open through their own perseverance and intelligence and courage and passion.”
“Fly,” the second play in Ford’s Lincoln Legacy Project, is based on the experiences of the Tuskegee Airmen. So Khan brought in Roscoe Brown, a former Tuskegee Airman with whom he’d previously worked. (Brown was a consultant on “Lonely Eagles” at Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey, which Khan also directed.)