This story was corrected on Jan. 9, 2014. An explanation follows the story.
Fans of children’s theater will have a chance to see two productions at Bowie State University this month before their producer, Adventure Theatre Musical Theatre Company of Glen Echo, takes the shows on the road.
Presenting “Five Little Monkeys” and “Three Little Birds” in BSU’s new Fine and Performing Arts Center gives Adventure a chance to work out production kinks before traveling, said Adventure’s producing artistic director, Michael Bobbitt.
Adventure’s theater space is the wrong shape for such productions.
“We can tech it in another location ... and work out the lighting, set and the blocking,” he said.
“It’s a luxury to work all that out beforehand,” said Bobbitt. “We can even practice setting up and breaking down the set and loading into the truck.”
“Five Little Monkeys” will run for two shows at BSU on Jan. 16, and again on Jan. 17 before heading down to Florida to start a 30-city tour.
With the production, Adventure joins the small group of companies, such as TheatreWorks USA, that send show traveling to different venues.
“Three Little Birds,” which incorporates Jamaican legend Bob Marley’s music, will run for two shows at BSU on Jan. 30 and again on Jan. 31 before its off-Broadway run in New York in February.
Bowie State University is also developing its own productions through its WonderWorks children’s theater program, which gives students hands-on theatrical experience but also meets a demand for more children’s shows in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties.
Adventure’s “Five Little Monkeys” is set to begin its tour on Jan. 22 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
It’s a story about five little monkey siblings who try to bake their mother a cake, go to the mall to shop and engage in a series of other adventures during a fun-filled and funny day.
The play is based on author Eileen Christelow’s series of picture books.
“We took four of nine books and developed it into one play,” said Bobbitt, who commissioned Ernie Nolan of Chicago to adapt it for the stage.
“He’s a hysterically funny person, and I thought he’d be the perfect person to write this,” he said.
“It’s our first national ‘bus and truck’ tour,” said Bobbitt about the production. “They’re all local actors who have been hired by us, and we send them out.”
Traveling with them will be a stage manager, backstage crew member and a sound engineer.
“This gives us a national presence. .... It’s a way for more kids to see the theater,” Bobbitt said.
By traveling, “Five Little Monkeys” might be seen by 100,000 patrons in a year, compared to the 50,000 that might see it at Glen Echo in Montgomery County in a year, he said.
Having the script published will also enable other companies to produce it, he said.
Adventure’s other production, “Three Little Birds,” is based on a children’s story by Cedella Marley, Bob Marley’s daughter, and a song of the same name by Marley.
It is set to run from Feb. 7-23 at the New Victory Theatre in Manhattan.
Written and choreographed by Bobbitt, the musical is about a little boy named Ziggy who is so worried about evil spirits and tropical storms that he’s afraid to leave the house.
But with help from Dr. Bird and his feathered friends, Ziggy learns that everything’s going to be OK.
Bobbitt won permission from the Marley family to include 15 of Marley’s songs in the musical, which Adventure first presented in March 2013 at Glen Echo.
“Trying new ventures is what we like to do,” said Bobbitt, who joined Adventure Theatre MTC in 2007.
“We’re having fun growing and exploring new options,” he said.
The telephone number in the fact box was incorrect. The correct number to call for more information is the box office at 301-860-3717.