by Yvonne Joyce for OLY ARTS
“All of the shows next year are based on books – we are excited to connect kids to literature!” This is the introduction Olympia Family Theater artistic director Jen Ryle provides for the theater’s just-announced 12th season. Six plays are planned in the 2018-2019 season, and these literary shows will appeal to a cross-section of youthful audiences.
Corduroy is the first show of the season. Based on the classic book by Don Freeman, this is the story of a rogue teddie bear who delightfully deconstructs a department store in search of a missing button. Corduroy is a brand-new play based on the classic 50-year-old book. “I saw the world premiere of this play at Minneapolis Children’s Theater,” explains Ryle. “I’m very enthusiastic about bringing this production to Olympia.”
Olympia Family Theater is also enthusiastic about nurturing local playwrights, and to that end, the theater is again hosting a storytelling play festival – “Tales Told in Ten” – in early November.
In December, “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol,” a special child-oriented adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” brings the perspective of Bob Crachit’s youngest offspring, who is determined to get his father home for Christmas, despite Ebenezer Scrooge’s stingy ways.
Last year, Kate DiCamillo’s “Edward Tulane” was a hit on the Olympia Family Theater stage, and Ryle hopes to replicate that success with a new play based on another DiCamillo novel. “Flora and Ulysses,” the novel by DiCamillo, will be brought to life on stage in a new play. This story of a squirrel who turns into a superhero is full of quirky characters and wacky incidents.
In March, the classic novel “The Hundred Dresses,” by Mary Hall Surface, will come to life on stage. “Dresses” is a poignant story of bullies and bystanders. Directed by Olympia Family Theater co-founder Samantha Chandler, the play version evokes powerful themes and is recommended only for children ages seven and up.
The season is rounded out with the madcap adventures of “Go, Dog, Go!” – based on the classic picturebook by P.D. Eastman – last appeared on the Olympia Family Theater stage in 2012. Back for a repeat run, this stage show is a musical pop-up book brought to life, full of extraordinary antics and whimsical stagecraft.
Olympia Family Theater continues to grow in prestige as well. The Washington Center for the Performing Arts honors local arts leaders with its annual Center Awards. At the Washington Center Gala in July, Jen Ryle and Samantha Chandler will be honored with an “Excellence in the Arts” Award for co-creating Olympia Family Theater. The theater marks its 12th anniversary with the 2018-2019 season.
“We are thrilled to be honored,” says Ryle. “It is very nice for our work to be recognized, especially since there is so much great theater in this town. It’s wonderful to see what happens when your dreams take flight.”
WHAT: Olympia Family Theater Season
Corduroy, Sept 28-Oct 21, 2018
Tales Told in Ten Festival, Nov 3-4, 2018
Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol, Nov 30-Dec 23, 2018
Flora & Ulysses, Feb 1-17, 2018
The Hundred Dresses, March 15-31, 2019
Go, Dog, Go! May 10-June 2, 2019
Olympia Family Theater, 612 4th Ave E
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