NYC Theater Review: 'Wanda's Monster'
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Oh the story doesn’t end there—but it is where the bittersweet finale begins. I’ll leave you and your tiny theatergoers to discover the rest for yourselves.
What: Wanda’s Monster the Musical
Where: The Vineyard’s Dimson Theatre, 108 E. 15th St. (just East of Union Square)
When: Through Sept. 8, 2013: Thursday-Friday at 10:30am; Saturday at 10:30am and 2pm; Sundays at 12:30pm and 3pm
Running Time: 60 minutes (no intermission)
Age Range: 3-7
Tickets: $39-$65; premium tickets include a copy of Laurie Berkner’s album Rocketship Run, a show poster and front-of-the-line access at the post-show meet-and-greet/photo op.
Exclusive Discount: Use code PPSAVE to get a 25 percent discount on tickets
More Information: 646-601-1406 or wandasmonster.com
FYI & Such
Wanda’s Monster marks the first collaboration between critically acclaimed Making Books Sing, the New York-based nonprofit pioneering organization promoting children’s literacy and social development through professional theater productions and arts-in-education programs, and Laurie Berkner, the award-winning children’s singer/songwriter who penned the show’s music and lyrics.
Barbara Zinn Krieger founded Making Books Sing in 1996, during her 22-year tenure as executive director of Manhattan’s Tony Award-winning Vineyard Theatre, a labor of love that has resulted in countless theatrical works based on contemporary children’s books from diverse cultures. To date, Making Books Sing musical productions have had a significant impact on more than 100,000 school-aged children and their families.
As for Berkner (a.k.a. “the queen of children’s music,” according to People magazine), her contribution to the young children’s music scene has been groundbreaking: She was the first recording artist to perform regularly on Nick Jr. and pops up regularly on the preschool network “Sprout.” And in case, as a parent, you’re looking for printed-word assurance, the Los Angeles Times has noted: “Laurie Berkner does what Fred Rogers did: respect, validate, and reassure young children.”
The Director’s Cut
Ever wonder what it would be like to direct a high-energy musical while pregnant? And not just “sort of” pregnant, either. Adrienne Kapstein, the director of Wanda’s Monster, doesn’t wonder—in fact she could give a seminar on the subject, since she’s done it twice.
The musical debuted at the Mint Theater last spring. Kapstein says by the time she began rehearsals, “I was pretty pregnant with my second child.” Not that carrying a baby girl stopped the mother of a 5-year old boy from being both active and hands-on as she brought the show to life. “I was jumping up and down a lot,” she says, adding that it was fortunate the creative team was able to come up with a set for the rehearsal room. Still, by the time the show transferred to the Vineyard, she was on the cusp of giving birth.
Which she did less than three weeks before the official Vineyard debut. I know this for a fact, because I met baby Dulcie at the theater on opening day. And according to all reports—and audio transmission—she slept through the whole performance.
“Like most New York City women, I felt completely divided between home and work,” Kapstein says. But, she admits, having her 5-year-old son—who is smack in the middle of the show’s target age range—around during rehearsals was actually helpful. “I’d channel his reactions, watching for what would make him laugh,” she says. “Not surprisingly, it was slapstick and physical comedy.”