Arden Theatre Company opens its 16th Season of Children’s Theatre with Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Based on the beloved book series by Louis Sachar, this adaptation by John Olive will be directed by Whit MacLaughlin. The production runs from December 4, 2013 through February 15, 2014 and includes weekday matinee performances for students and weekend performances for families. Best enjoyed by families with children ages 5 and older, Sideways Stories from the Wayside School runs on the Arden’s F. Otto Haas Stage at 40 N. 2nd Street in the heart of Old City, Philadelphia.
“Arden Children’s Theatre has been a beloved cornerstone of our work for 15 years,” says Terrence J. Nolen, Arden’s Producing Artistic Director. “We’re proud to have introduced thousands of families and schools to these great stories on our stage, and to revisit one of our favorite books Sideways Stories from Wayside School.”
Is your school a little too…normal? Welcome to Wayside. Before you enter Wayside School, you should know it’s a thirty-story building with one classroom on each floor. Mrs. Jewls is nice and teaches class on the thirtieth story, but watch out for Mrs. Gorf, who turns kids into apples if they give a wrong answer. And then there’s Miss Zarves, who teaches the class on the nineteenth story – except there is no nineteenth story so there is no Miss Zarves. The zany characters of Wayside School take you on a bizarre classroom journey that promises to thrill and excite the entire family.
At the helm of this production is Whit MacLaughlin who has directed multiple award-winning Arden Children’s Theatre shows, including Cinderella, Charlotte’s Web, The Borrowers, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (nominated for four Barrymore Awards), The BFG, and A Year with Frog and Toad (nominated for five Barrymore Awards).
The creative team welcomes audiences into Wayside School with a classroom literally oriented sideways. The classroom’s walls and chalkboard are on the stage’s floor and ceiling, and the classroom’s floor and ceiling are projector screens on the walls of the set. The design team includes Scenic Designer David P. Gordon (Stick Fly, Charlotte’s Web, Barrymore Award winner for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), costume designer Richard St. Clair (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Peter Pan, A Year with Frog and Toad, Sleeping Beauty), lighting designer Allen Hahn (Arden debut, Under the Whaleback at the Wilma Theater), and sound and video designer Jorge Cousineau (over 45 Arden productions including Cinderella, Frog and Toad, The BFG).
The cast consists of a diverse range of Philadelphia artists with a strong emphasis in physical theatre and work for children. Returning to the Arden are Rachel Camp as Mrs. Jewls (Parade, Next to Normal) Robert Hager as Myron (Parade, Next to Normal, Broadway’s Spring Awakening), Alex Keiper as Bebe (Parade, A Little Night Music, Cinderella), Emilie Krause as Leslie (Charlotte’s Web), and Steve Pacek (Robin Hood, Clybourne Park, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) in multiple roles including Mrs. Gorf and Mr. Pickle. In their Arden debuts are Taysha Canales as Rondi, Dave Johnson as Louis, and Anthony Martinez-Briggs as Dameon.
The Arden dedicates the same resources to theatre productions for families as their mainstage work, especially by hiring the same designers and actors. Last year’s holiday production of Cinderella welcomed 30,000 audience members to the Arden, and the season prior Charlotte’s Web became the highest attended show in the company’s year history, with over 34,000 audience members . In 2011, Arden Children’s Theatre was awarded two Barrymore Awards for the 2011 production of The Flea and the Professor, including Outstanding Production of a Musical.
Following every performance of Sideways Stories from Wayside School, children participate in a post-show question and answer session with the cast, and then have an opportunity to meet the actors in the lobby. All children also receive a free commemorative show poster to take home. Weekday performances are held at 10am to accommodate thousands of schoolchildren. Over 2,500 students will attend the production free of charge through the Arden for All program, which also provides books, transportation and in-school lessons from professional teaching artists to communities with little or no arts access.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School begins performances on Wednesday, December 4, with previews through December 7. Opening night is set for 7pm Saturday, December 7, 2013. Closing is set for Saturday, February 15. Sideways Stories from Wayside School is sponsored by PECO. The 2013/14 season of Arden Children’s Theatre, which includes Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat in the spring, is proudly sponsored by Comcast and Sprout.
Single ticket prices are $16-$36. Groups of 20+ enjoy significant discounts, with additional resources and classes available for teachers; please inquire for rates. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, order online at www.ardentheatre.org, or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.
The Arden is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices and large-print programs at every performance. Reservations are required for accessible seating and may be made by calling the Arden’s Box Office at 215.922.1122. ASL interpretation is available at select performances. The Arden works with Hands UP Productions to present shadow-signed performances, where interpreters are part of the action. These performances will be held on Friday, January 17 at 10am and Saturday, January 18 at 4pm.
Arden Theatre Company also offers Arden Drama School, a wide array of classes and day camps for kids and teens ages 2 through 18 years old. Details on all Arden Drama School classes can be found online at www.ardendramaschool.com
Arden Drama School is sponsored by Susquehanna Bank.
To further enhance the performance experience, kids ages seven and older are invited to join the Family Usher Network (FUN) with their adult chaperones. FUN gives kids a behind-the-scenes peek at how plays are created, instills the value of community involvement and teaches valuable social skills. FUN ushers receive an exclusive backstage tour, hand out programs, tear tickets, seat patrons and help straighten up the theatre after the show. For information call the box office at 215.922.1122.
WHAT: Sideways Stories from Wayside School
By John Olive based on the books by Louis Sachar
Directed by Whit MacLaughlin
SUMMARY: Is your school a little too…normal? Welcome to Wayside. Before you enter Wayside School, you should know it’s a thirty-story building with one classroom on each floor. Mrs. Jewls is nice and teaches class on the thirtieth story, but watch out for Mrs. Gorf, who turns kids into apples if they give a wrong answer. And then there’s Miss Zarves, who teaches the class on the nineteenth story – except there is no nineteenth story so there is no Miss Zarves. The zany characters of Wayside School take you on a bizarre classroom journey that promises to thrill and excite the entire family.
WHERE: Arden Theatre Company
F. Otto Haas Stage
40 N. 2nd Street, Old City Philadelphia 19106
WHEN: December 4, 2013 – February 15, 2014
TICKETS: Call the Box Office at 215.922.1122 or visit www.ardentheatre.org
Weekday Performances (Tuesday – Friday, excluding Friday nights at 7pm)
Adults: $32; Teens (13-17 yrs): $20; Kids (12 yrs and under): $16
Weekend Performances (Friday nights at 7pm; Saturdays and Sundays)
Adults: $36; Teens (13-17 yrs): $22; Kids (12 yrs and under): $18
Groups discounts for 20 or more tickets. Weekdays: $12/ticket; Weekends $16/ticket
Arden Children’s Theatre subscriptions are available for $26 – $50, which includes tickets to both Sideways Stories from Wayside School and Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat
Rachel Camp (Resident of Philadelphia, PA) Mrs. Jewls Taysha Canales (Resident of Philadelphia, PA) Rondi Robert Hager (Resident of New York, NY) Myron Dave Johnson (Resident of Philadelphia, PA) Louis Alex Keiper (Resident of Philadelphia, PA) Bebe Emilie Krause (Resident of Philadelphia, PA) Leslie Anthony Martinez-Briggs (Resident of Philadelphia, PA) Dameon Steve Pacek (Resident of Philadelphia, PA) Mrs. Gorf, Sammy, Mr. Pickle,
Miss Valoosh, Mr. Gorf
Whit MacLaughlin Director
David P. Gordon Scenic Designer
Richard St. Clair Costume Designer
Allen Hahn Lighting Designer
Jorge Cousineau Sound and Video Designer Alec E. Ferrell Stage Manager
PRODUCTION SPONSOR PECO