NACOGDOCHES, Texas – As families across East Texas make plans for summer vacations and schedule events to keep the kids entertained in the coming months, putting the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre’s SummerStage Festival on the calendar is a must.
This year’s festival runs June 23 through July 8 and features the children’s musical favorite “The Jungle Book Kids,” and “Women Who Weave,” a comedy for young audiences. With its laid-back approach, SummerStage is designed to provide less formal, fun and easy-going live theatre experiences for audiences of all ages, according to Cleo House Jr., director of the SFA School of Theatre and director of “The Jungle Book Kids.”
“The School of Theatre is 100% committed to ensuring that our summer offerings are all about bringing productions that are family friendly, where children can have a great time,” House said. “This summer we’re doing things a little differently because both shows are targeted to the youth, but we are certain that the adults will have a good time, as well.”
“The Jungle Book Kids” is based on the novel “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling and the beloved Disney film by the same name. In the children’s stage version, the jungle is jumpin’ with jazz in this high-energy show. Audiences will enjoy watching Mowgli, Baloo, King Louie and the gang as they swing their way through madcap adventures, singing along with favorite tunes, including “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You.”
“We picked ‘The Jungle Book’ because it is nostalgia for the adults and great fun for the kids,” House said. “We will also be incorporating a great deal of puppetry, which we’re excited about. The puppets will be a collaboration between our lecturer in costume design, James McDaniel, and the student props designer, Jackson Barclay. I’m very excited for the audience to see what we have in store.”
In J.S. Puller’s “Women Who Weave,” 12-year-old Atalanta is convinced that being female means giving up any chance at being heroic. Her mother comforts her with the stories of the Fates, three goddesses who weave the destiny of all human beings. A dream carries Atalanta to the loom of the Fates, where she discovers that heroism has more to do with the decisions we make than the fate we’re born into.
It’s a play that ties mythology to current times, according to CC Conn, professor of lighting and sound design at SFA and the play’s director.
“It offers educational content that is entertaining and lighthearted,” Conn said. “In addition, the School of Theatre will offer sensory-friendly performances on July 6 and 8 at 10 a.m. and July 7 at 6:30 p.m. Sensory-friendly performances are designed to create an inviting audience experience for people with autism and other disabilities.”
The School of Theatre company will provide informational videos about these performances closer to the show dates. Pre-show arts activities will also be offered for the audience to enjoy as well, Conn said.
“The Jungle Book Kids” has music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman and Terry Gilkyson; with additional lyrics and book adapted by Marcy Heisler; and music adapted and arranged by Bryan Louiselle. Disney’s “The Jungle Book Kids” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.
“The Jungle Book Kids” will be presented at 10 a.m. June 29 and July 1 and 7; and at 6:30 p.m. June 30 and July 1, 6 and 8.
“Women Who Weave” will be presented at 10 a.m. June 23, 24, 30 and July 6 and 8; and at 6:30 p.m. June 29 and July 7. “Women Who Weave” is produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc.
General admission tickets for both plays are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students/youth. Pay-what-you-can performances for both shows are on June 30.
All performances are in Kennedy Auditorium, 1906 Alumni Drive, SFA campus. For tickets, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or access finearts.sfasu.edu/purchase. For more information about SummerStage, visit theatre.sfasu.edu.