Ivy + Bean as a Book AND a Musical
Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s (BACT) latest production, Ivy + Bean, was so fun, friendly, and cheerful! I noticed that it stayed very true to the books. There are many Ivy + Bean stories and this play combined several of them into one great musical. The cheerful characters, the exciting adventures, and the amazing friendships were all shown in this production.
I think that adapting a musical out of a book must be really difficult. First of all, you have to take all of the books and kind of mash them together. I imagine the writers would have to read all of the Ivy + Bean stories and really get to know the characters, their relationships, and adventures in order to decide which stories would best capture the ideas in the books. It is probably important to choose scenes that many children will recognize and enjoy. This would be challenging because it is necessary to make sure everything fits together and that the biggest details are included.
Another difficulty of turning a book into a musical is the songs. The book doesn’t have songs, of course, so the creators must make up their own music and find a way to fit it into the production. They also must choose a style of songs that match the mood of the play. For example, Ivy + Bean is really cheerful, so the songs must be very upbeat and fun. Even if the songs are mostly the same moods, they need to stand out and be different from one another. I think that making up the songs in a musical seems like a very challenging, yet rewarding, job.
|Actor Katie McGee as Nancy using amazing facial expression|
There are important things in plays that you can’t do in books. For example, showing facial expressions is a great way for an actor to express how her character feels. In a book, you have to use your imagination, which is fun, but very different. I enjoy the ability to see how the characters look and sound. The Ivy + Bean creators did a great job with the costumes and the child-like behaviors; everyone seemed exactly like how I pictured them while reading the books!
The scenery also was the same style of art as is in the Ivy + Bean books. The props, such as large worms in buckets, and Bean’s colorful backyard fence, really brought the scenes to life. The actors’ casual and colorful outfits were playful and showed the personalities of each character very well.
Obviously, every scene from the books cannot be included in the musical. Not all of the characters can be developed either. An important part of the Ivy + Bean books that was not included in this play was the importance of having all kinds of friends. This is a theme that runs through the books, but was only represented on stage by having a variety of kids. It would be hard to have added more dialogue or songs about the minor characters.
These are ways that live productions are entertaining and even though reading is my very favorite thing, I enjoy seeing a good book brought to life on stage. Sometimes, seeing a book played out on stage makes me realize something new about the book or sparks my imagination in another way. I think that by choosing productions based on popular books, BACT is able to attract new audiences to the theater.
I was really happy that BACT chose to do Ivy + Bean again. The books are so friendly and fun and so is the play! I think everybody did a great job keeping the production close to the book, but still keeping the play different and exciting. Thanks to all the actors and the creative team for such a great play!