The first theatrical season for the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center is set to feature popular stories and music, as well as a big green dinosaur, Scrooge and the Cat in the Hat.
“We are so excited about the first season at the Performing Arts Center (PAC),” PAC Events Coordinator Pam Egbert said. “We have picked shows that not only appeal to the school- aged children, but also the local residents that not only enjoy theater but enjoy coming to the Performing Arts Center to see a good show.”
• Thaddeus Rex and Rock the Dinosaur on Tuesday, Sept. 13
The season starts with Thaddeus Rex and Rock the Dinosaur on Tuesday, Sept. 13. The show is to be open during the day to all elementary students in the district.
“I saw this show at the Ohio Art Presenters Network Convention and the students they had in attendance loved the show and enjoyed the high energy that Thaddeus Rex and Rock brought out in them,” Egbert said. “Being part of the school system gives me the opportunity to not only do great shows, but to bring in shows that will be educational also. I love Thaddeus Rex for that reason, besides who doesn’t love a big green dinosaur dancing on stage.”
Early in his career, performing in a Las Vegas Borders bookstore, a schoolteacher was impressed with the way Rex used books to inspire his songwriting and encouraged him to share his passion for reading in his shows. Her idea stuck and Rex’s mantra “Read like a rock star!” was born and is shared through more than 200 concerts a year.
He’s created, written and stared in a regular segment on the Emmy Award winning PBS kids show, “The Friday Zone,” won the prestigious NAPPA Honors award from United Parenting Publications, and won best song in 2004 at the Children’s Music Web Awards with his first CD.
A sophomore CD, “We Wanna Rock,” released in 2006 has been described as reminiscent of David Bowie with flashes of Monty Python, Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. It too is wracking up awards with four wins and additional nominations to date.
“This show is not just for the younger ages,” Egbert said. “I think everyone will enjoy the music and dancing.”
• The Night Before Christmas Carol on Saturday, Dec. 17
The PAC’s Christmas show features David zum Brunnen in “The Night Before Christmas Carol.”
“This show will be the closing of our Christmas season in the Performing Arts Center,” Egbert said. “The band concerts, choir concerts and elementary programs will all be done and we will have Scrooge as our final show before Christmas break.”
She said the PAC is to be decorated for the holidays, giving the Saturday, Dec. 17, show a special touch.
An historically accurate and highly humorous holiday production by renowned Dickens scholar Elliot Engel, the play is set in 1843 on the night that Charles Dickens dreams up his idea for a ghostly little Christmas book that becomes world famous. As he composes his winter morality tale, the audience glimpses into the life of the real Dickens, explaining his inspirations.
The one-man production has provided family entertainment for ages 8 to 80 as zum Brunnen performs the role of not only the author but more than 17 other characters in the 90-minute spirited holiday performance.
• Seussical on Sunday, Feb. 26
The final show scheduled for the season is to be the off-Broadway rendition of Seussical at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.
“When I saw this show being advertised I just could not give up on bringing it to Wapakoneta,” Egbert said. “It took months of negotiations and finding the exact spot they could be here to make this possible.
“We had to schedule around the sports events at the high school and also the touring schedule,” she said. “Theaterworks USA kept trying to sell me a different show and I really wanted this show, I wasn’t giving up.”
Adapted from the Broadway version of the musical, Seussical is written by Broadway veterans Lynn Ahrens and Stephn Flaherty, who also did Ragtime, Once on This Island, and the film Anastasia. The production features 12 actors and enhanced production values and is the company’s biggest show to date. To the Wapakoneta stage it is to bring with it all the thrills of a New York show.
The Cat in the Hat is the host and emcee, and all-around mischief maker, in this romp through the Seuss classics.
When the sweet, good-natured elephant Horton hears a small cry for help coming from a small speck of dust, he promises to rescue and guard it because “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
On that small speck of dust lives JoJo, an imaginative young Who, who has astounding “thinks,” in which anything’s possible, but his parents believe this creativity is inappropriate for the son of the son of the mayor of Who-Ville.
Meanwhile, the one-feathered bird, Miss Gertrude McFuzz, desperately wants Horton to notice her. She thinks maybe he would if she just had a more impressive tail. At the same time, the amazingly lazy Mayzie La Bird connives, cajoles and convinces Horton to sit on her egg while she goes off on a spree.
“All the shows this year will be spectacular,” Egbert said. “I just wanted to pick shows that were appealing to all ages and also at the same time put in a little teaching for the students.”
She said the Kent Boyd Comes Home Show has made it all possible.
“It’s not cheap to do shows like this and the Kent Boyd Comes Home Show was a benefit for the Performing Arts Center,” Egbert said. “All the money made from Kent’s shows goes to help bring in more performances to the Performing Arts Center.
“To keep things like this coming to the Performing Arts Center we need the support of the local residents,” she said. “We are pricing the season pass at $55 for all three shows. You would pay that, or more, just to see an off-Broadway show at another venue. We have tried to keep the ticket price down so anyone can come see the shows.”