Friday, December 18, 2015

Kara Blogs: My Interview with Andrew P. Quick: A Christmas Miracle

Actor Andrew P. Quick
After watching the BACT play, Lemony Snicket’s The Lump of Coal, I got to interview Andrew P. Quick, who played the Lump of Coal. The play was fun and exciting.  The Lump of Coal is about a lump of coal who wants to be an artist that draws rough black lines on a canvas or a piece of chicken filet.  He searches for a Christmas miracle but cannot find one.  For example, he gets kicked out of Mr. Wong’s Korean BBQ and Secretarial School because they only take in things that are 100 percent Korean.  He is about to give up when he meets a Santa that works for a drugstore. The Santa had an idea; “I will put you in my nephew’s stocking.  He has been naughty.”  The next day when Jasper, the little boy, found the Lump of Coal in his stocking he said, “I really wanted to draw rough black lines with a lump of coal.” They made a fortune together making art and with their money they took a trip to Korea.  When they got back they bought Mr. Wong’s Korean BBQ and turned it into Yang Kangs Korean BBQ.  They actually made sure that everything was 100 percent Korean.  Jasper and the Lump of Coal were great friends. 

After all the kids got to play in the snow and draw, I interviewed Andrew P. Quick in the empty theatre.  He played the Lump of Coal.  His favorite part of being the Lump of Coal was falling and rolling around and having buckets of fake snow thrown over his head.  For him, the most difficult part about being the Lump of Coal was being a bit more serious because his other job is being a clown.  After I found out he was a clown I asked him if he could juggle and he can juggle 5 balls!  That made me smile because I want to learn how to juggle too.  Andrew started acting in 5th grade when he played the character who sings ‘I Love to Laugh’ in Mary Poppins.  Later on, one of his favorite roles that he played in another BACT show was Bingo the dog in Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy.  Also, he liked doing a comedy act in a 1930’s Speak Easy. 

Andrew P. Quick started enjoying acting in college when he learned to make people laugh by using his body.  Here is his advice for people who would like to act or work in the theatre: Learn tons about the theatre. Work in many theatre jobs. Go to college.

Andrew gives Kara some tips on juggling!
After the interview, Andrew P. Quick got his juggling balls and gave me some tips on juggling.  Exciting! His tips are: 1. Throw one hand after the other, not at the same time.  2. If you are having trouble, alternate which hand you start with.  3. Try to make an ‘X’ in the air.  These tips helped me a lot. I enjoyed interviewing Andrew P. Quick because he was nice and funny. 

My favorite part of the play was when kids could come on stage and be in the play.  I got to go on stage and pretend I was ordering food at Mr. Wong’s Korean BBQ.  The most exciting part was when two kids pulled on a rope and snow fell down.  Last, seeing the Lump of Coal fall all over the place was funny.  The moral of the story is miracles can happen to anyone even a Lump of Coal.


Lemony Snicket's The Lump of Coal plays for three more weekends thru January 3rd at the Children's Creativity Museum Theater in San Francisco! Click here to reserve your tickets for this unique holiday show!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Min Kahng Discusses Adapting Bad Kitty for the Stage

Playwright Min Kahng. Photo by Ben Krantz.
By Vivian Auslander
He created BACT’s award-winning musical version of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and our hit Tales of Olympus: A Greek Myth Musical. Now, the multi-talented Min Kahng is writing the script and the musical score for our upcoming world premiere of Bad Kitty on Stage! Below, he discusses what inspired him about Nick Bruel ‘s popular Bad Kitty comic series and how he is adapting the series for young audiences.
Q:  How did Bad Kitty on Stage! come to be?
A:  Our Executive Director Nina Meehan proposed the project—her sons were reading the series and loving it.  When I read the books, the first thing that jumped out at me was their unique style—a combination of comic books and chapter books—and I thought it would be fun and interesting to put that style onstage.  But I needed to feel an emotional resonance as well, and two of the books grabbed me right away—Bad Kitty Meets the Baby, which explores how Kitty reacts to the new addition to her family, and Bad Kitty School Daze, which struck me because the amazingly patient teacher tells Kitty at the end of the day that she doesn’t think she’s a bad kitty at all. I can imagine children needing reinforcement like that and how it would help them grow.  In fact, all the animal characters in the series are childlike, with their unique quirks and eccentricities, and they are all working on growing up.  For me, the stories are about what it’s like to grow up and learn important lessons, and I’ve kept that in mind along with the humor and the quirkiness to help make the story line cohesive and authentic.
Q: In the series, Kitty doesn’t use words.  How do you make that work on stage?
Actor Sango Tajima as Bad Kitty. Photo by Melissa Nigro.
A: We debated that a lot at the beginning, wondering if we should have Kitty speak.  But we wanted to be faithful to the universe of the books.  So the challenge was what that meant—how do you translate the images in the books to a human actor?  Casting was the key, and we are extremely fortunate to have Sango Tajima, a gifted physical actor whose face can tell you what Kitty is feeling in a cartoon manner that is also genuine!  It was clear to us from the first reading of the play, just from Sango’s face and movements, that she could tell the story.  And, in the script, while I write “meow” or other animal sounds, I also include parenthetical statements of what I want the sounds to mean to guide the actors as to what their intention should be.
Q:  What were your goals for the music that underscores the action of the play?
A:  When I started thinking about the style of the music, I recalled the Saturday morning cartoons I’d watched as a child—like Looney Tunes, where the background music plays such a big role in setting the mood and creating the sound effects.  I wanted to incorporate that sensibility into the play. Then, we workshopped the play, and realized that the music had to be performed live to provide vibrant energy and to choreograph precisely with what’s happening on stage.  We were very lucky to find Phil Wong, who is both an actor and a pianist.  Phil will be our narrator, and he’ll play the score and improvise as needed. I’m very excited to be collaborating with him.  He’ll take what I compose and give us his feedback about how it’s working with the characters and the scenes.
Q:  The Bay Area Children’s Theatre has co-commissioned Bad Kitty On Stage! with the Oregon Children’s Theatre.  What does that mean?
A:  Both companies are producing this show for the first time—our run begins in January, theirs in February.  And it’s been a fascinating experience for me, because I have to make sure the script and the music work for both productions.  For example, the sets for our BACT shows have to be compact and moveable, since we perform in three different locations.  Oregon has a big traditional proscenium stage. When we send Kitty up into a “tree,” we are working with the idea of a tree.  Their production includes something much more like a real tree, so they’ll need enough transition music for Kitty to get into and out of the tree.  My challenge is to make the score and the script elastic enough to meet different needs.
Director Benjamin Hanna at our first read-thru with the Bad Kitty cast.
Q:  Now that the show is in rehearsal, what is your role?
A: I’ll be in the rehearsal room to help clear up any questions about the script or how the music fits into the action on stage. I can make changes or re-write as the needs arise. 
Q:  Nick Bruel, the author and illustrator of the Bad Kitty books, will be here for the opening?
A:  Yes. He reached out to us when he was visiting the Bay Area some months ago.  He was pleased and surprised by how faithful our adaptation is to the series, which made me feel good, because I wanted to capture the spirit of the books.  He will be here for our opening day performances, signing books and joining us for a reception with our donors.
Bad Kitty On Stage opens at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in downtown Berkeley on January 23rd. The show runs from January 23-February 21 in Berkeley, February 27-28 in San Ramon, and March 5-26 in San Francisco. Click here to purchase tickets.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Julietta Blogs: An Interview with Amanda Maxwell

Amanda Maxwell
Before seeing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I got to interview Amanda Maxwell, who is also a BACT teacher. She played three characters: the Baroness, a hair cutter, and a factory worker. She has been acting since she was 6 years old. The first time she was on a stage was in a song from The Wizard Of Oz, where she was Dorothy, and she has been acting ever since. The most characters she has played was in this play. She has played one character with many costume changes, but she has never been this many characters before. She likes being lots of characters better than being only one character because she gets to be more creative and because she just gets to be more characters in one play. Her favorite character she has been in this show is the Baroness. Her favorite scene is the end where the baroness and the baron get captured because everything is crazy onstage!

Julietta with the Baroness!
After the interview, I was excited to look for the characters Amanda plays. She had to change costumes between scenes, and most times change to the Baroness, since that character is in lots of scenes. She is really good at acting, and not only did she change her costume, but she also changed her voice. It looked hard being the Baroness because she has lots of lines that seem hard to remember. I have seen other BACT plays and usually there is a small cast and all of them play lots of characters. In this play there was a big cast, and still all of them had played multiple characters, like Amanda did. That's what I like about watching BACT plays, because the actors are really great at being their characters.
There are only two weekends left of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! December 12-13 in Berkeley and December 19-20 in San Ramon. Click here to get your tickets before this show flies away!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Charlette Blogs: Comparing the Play vs. the Film

Now it's Charlette's turn for her first blog post! 7 year-old Charlette shares with us her thoughts as she compares the experience of watching the film version with the musical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!


I was excited to watch the film but I was more excited to watch the play. The play Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had the same songs as the movie, and the actors acted like the characters in there to. The play missed some scenes, like the dad trying to fly with rockets on his back in the beginning of the movie.

I noticed in the play the setting was different than the movie. In the movie they had a real car, but in the play they made one and had to pretend. The actors had to pretend the car was flying, driving, and floated in the play. The characters acted and dressed for the time period. The dances were different than the movie.

Actor Rachel Seele as Truly Scrumptious
I can't choose which one I liked the most. The movie was long. I think the play was better than the movie. I felt excited, and the play was fun to watch. In the play, I liked when they used props on the stage. My favorite part was when Truly danced as a doll on a music box. Her voice was fantastic. When the dad dressed as a puppet I thought he was funny. I do like the songs in the play.

In theater you have to work hard and I think the actors worked really hard. Me and my mommy had a lot of fun and I can't wait to see the next play.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is now running at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley through December 13. Visit our website for tickets and more info!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Kara Blogs: The Flying Car

It's the first blog post for BACT Blogger Kara! In this post, Kara describes her experiences with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in three different forms: book, film and stage musical!


When I saw the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang play at the BACT it was hilarious and full of excitement because the characters made the story come alive.  I have read the book, watched the movie and now I have seen the play. The book is by Ian Fleming.  My favorite part in the book is when Jeremy and Jemima write “GANSTER” on a pound note with a knife to warn Mr. Bon Bon that gangsters are outside waiting to rob his candy store.  

The 1968 movie directed by Albert Broccoli and starring Dick Van Dyke as Caractacus Potts is magical and magnificent. My favorite part in the movie is when Truly Scrumptious pretends to be a doll on a music box and she sings, 

Actor Neal Pascua as Boris, the spy.
How can you tell?
I’m under a spell

I’m waiting for loves 
First kiss to set me free.

She was distracting the Baron and Baroness of Vulgaria so the children could escape from them. 

The BACT play is based on the movie.  My favorite characters in the play were the spies, who were spying on the Pott’s family because the Baron ordered them to steal Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  It made me laugh when the spies were looking for their phone in the audience and when they found it; it was the shoe on his foot! 

Even though the car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang looked worthless at first, in the right hands, the Potts’ family’s hands, she was tremendously valuable. The BACT play was as exciting as driving a racecar.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs at the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco through November 8. Visit our website for tickets and more info! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Austin Zumbro: Exploring Art from A to Z

Playwright & Composer Austin Zumbro
We are thrilled that BACT’s Austin Zumbro is a finalist in this year’s Theatre Bay Area competition for Outstanding World Premiere Musical.
You could say that Austin, who wrote the script, music and lyrics for BACT’s hit show, THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, THE MUSICAL, spent 20 years preparing for the bow he took on opening day.
As a student in the Oakland schools, he loved his classes but missed having the arts in the curriculum, so, he did it himself—writing plays, filming videos and making music with his friends.  He learned the piano, taught himself guitar. And, at summer drama camp, he acted in plays as a camper, directed them as a counselor, and ultimately wrote the plays himself.
In high school, he learned he had a gift for songwriting . . . by losing a bet. 
“I was bowling one day, and my friends wagered that, if I lost, I would have to write a song about them,” he said.  “I lost, wrote the song, and it got a good reaction.  So I had a moment in which I learned, ‘Oh, I can make up a melody and play chords. It’s not magic—you just have to write it down and remember what you played.’”
When Austin got to Stanford University, he parlayed his newfound skill into taking requests for songs from fellow students.  He also joined the university’s improvisational theater troupe and performed with it for the next four years.
“I didn’t know it when I applied, but Stanford has a very strong improv program,” he said. "We had two-hour practices three times a week, and we did 20 to 30 shows a year.  It was a great experience! I learned how to get up in front of people, and I’m comfortable with that to this day.”
Austin’s improv experience and encompassing memory has served BACT very well in emergencies, when he has stepped out of his role as BACT’s beloved patron services manager to fill in for actors on stage at the eleventh hour in shows like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie; The Little Engine That Could; Pinkalicious; and James and the Giant Peach.
“Some people would find that too stressful, but I’m willing to jump in and do my best,” he said. “I know the audience and the cast will be supportive. That’s what’s so wonderful about theatre—it’s a supportive community with everyone trying to make the show great!”
At Stanford, Austin majored in human biology, with an emphasis in neuroscience and psychology.
“I love learning about the brain and behavior,” he said. “I like to think about people and their motivation, their stories.  That’s also why I’m attracted to theatre.”
For BACT, Austin has created a comedy, Rudolph the Ugly Duckling, and productions for schools, including The Gold Rush Musical; Labcoats and Scapegoats: A Science Fair Musicalamity; and Rock the Block: A Walk and Roll Musical. 

L to R: Actors Anna Smith, Jacqueline Dennis, Carina Salazar, Brett Jones & Chloe Condon. Photo by Joshua Posamentier.
His interest in psychology served him well when he was creating the script for THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, THE MUSICAL, a hilarious tale about a boy whose crayons go on strike, writing letters to express their grievances. 
“I spent a long time with the book, trying to read into the letters,” he said.  “The book is so successful because Daywalt and Jeffers use very short letters and simple drawings to create very rich characters on the page—that’s why people identify with the story.  So I was sitting with the relatively sparse words and pictures and thinking about who would write that kind of letter, what other words they would say, and why they would choose those words. I tried to be really true to that in the script and the lyrics.”
Austin’s choice of musical genres for the play came out of the same desire to bring his characters to life in ways that are faithful to their personalities and stories.
“I knew what kind of song I wanted to have, but I had to learn how to make it sound right,” he explained. “I created long playlists within each genre—gospel and blues, opera, musical theatre, etc.—and I tried to absorb them all to figure out what elements make them what they are.  I also asked people with more experience.  Then I synthesized what I’d learned for each number, and worked with our music director, Kevin Roland, to match the songs to the talents of the actors.”
Playwrights don’t necessarily participate in rehearsals for their shows, so Austin was “thrilled to be in the room” throughout the development of his play.
“It’s been a joy to be part of the team,” he said.  “I feel incredibly privileged to have done my part and see it come together!  I wrote it, but that’s just the first step. Nina Meehan (the director), the actors, and the artistic team deserve all the credit for beautiful execution.”
On opening day, Austin’s biggest question was whether the show would “appeal across the generations.”
“I know what I like,” he said, “and I work with kids all the time, but I was trying to write a show for everybody.”
Judging from the laughter and the thunderous applause the show received that day and throughout its run, he succeeded—from A to Z!

L to R: Actors Anna Smith, Jacqueline Dennis, Brett Jones, Matt Ono, Carina Salazar & Chloe Condon.
Photo by Joshua Posamentier.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Congrats to our TBA Awards Finalists for Crayons!

The Day the Crayons Quit, the Musical was honored in a very special way last week when Theatre Bay Area announced three TBA Awards Finalists from the show!

Composer & playwright Austin Zumbro is a Finalist for Outstanding World Premiere Musical.
Actor Brett Jones is a Finalist for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Principal Roles in a Musical.

And Choreographer Khalia Davis is a Finalist for Outstanding Choreography.

We had a chance to check in with Ms. Davis on her reaction to being a TBA Awards Finalist!

"When I found out that I was nominated for my choreography for Crayons, I was in disbelief. First of all, this was my first time creating choreography for adults for a main stage production. I had only ever worked with children. I couldn't believe that my novice work was being recognized in such high esteem among the other nominees. Secondly, this is a children's show! I couldn't believe that we were being given the same respect and special nods that the adult professional shows were also receiving. It made me realize that this theater community honors the work and doesn't care in what form it comes. I feel so lucky that my first main stage choreography position was with a group of individuals whom I admire and whom I consider family. Everyone brought something awesome to the table and helping bring Austin Zumbro's vision to life was icing on the cake. Our cast was full of talented actors who understood the value of collaboration and team work. I believe this show was such a huge success because everyone involved truly cared about making this show amazing and put all of their hard work into making it a memorable experience for our young audiences."
Congratulations to our three Finalists and ALL the Finalists for this year's TBA Awards. The awards ceremony is Monday, November 16. We'll be sure to keep you posted on the results!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Meet our newest BACT Bloggers!

We are excited to introduce you to our newest BACT Bloggers this season: Charlette and Kara! We'll let them tell you a little bit more about themselves.

"My name is Charlette. I am 7 years old. I really like acting and fashion. I also write my own songs. I have a dog named Roscoe. I live with my mom and dad. We have family dinners at my Oma and Opa once a week."

"Hi, my name is Kara. My favorite color is blue. I love to read. For example, I have read 70 Boxcar Children books. I also like to play soccer and collect Japanese erasers. I live in Vacaville with my parents, two younger sisters and a little brother."

Julietta, our veteran blogger, will still be writing posts for us this season as well! We look forward to the insights and unique perspectives all three of our BACT Bloggers will bring!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Julietta Blogs: Interview with Composer/Playwright Austin Zumbro

BACT Blogger Julietta returns; this time with an exclusive interview with the composer/playwright for The Day the Crayons Quit - Austin Zumbro! Julietta is a Bay Area native.  She enjoys art, crafting, theater, nature, and outdoors. In 9 years of soaking up creative talents, she has found many outlets for her creative energy. Activities such as Rainbow Loom, 4-H classes, Lego building and cartwheels take up most of her time.


The Day the Crayons Quit play was great! It was about crayons quitting because they are not being treated well. Red doesn't want to work on holidays and Blue is so short she cant see over the edge of the crayon box, and Peach, Yellow, Beige, Black, Orange, and Pink are also quitting and Green is quitting only because Yellow and Orange are fighting about being the color of the sun.

After the show I got to interview Austin, who was the composer and writer of the play. To pick a book for a musical at the BACT office they have a bunch of books to read and they choose the best books for the play. Some books might not make a good musical because they are too complicated and some are not good because they don't have much of a story. To make a play they read the book and come up with ideas for the play. The Day the Crayons Quit was good because it has both words and pictures to show what the characters are like.

To make songs for the play they read the book and think of good ways to make songs for the book. Austin starts by by humming a tune and then thinking of good words for the song. The Day the Crayons Quit was a really good choice because the crayons write letters to Duncan and in addition to the letters the crayons could sing songs. Some of the lines in the songs are words the crayons say in their letters. When Austin first read The Day the Crayons Quit, he knew that he wanted to have it be in a play. He said the most fun to write was Peach's song and it was also fun to write Pink's song. It was also one of the first songs he thought of. The Day the Crayons Quit was Austin's 4th musical he has written. He wrote one about the California gold rush, one about a science fair, and one called Safe Routes to School.

Julietta (center) with composer/playwright Austin Zumbro (right)
His favorite crayon is Blue. He really likes Blue's attitude cause she is stubby but she is happy about coloring. In the book he likes blue's illustration. To get started being a composer/writer he has always liked writing and he would write stories a lot. And in 6th grade he learned to play the piano, and after high school he learned to play the guitar. He started making silly songs for friends then later on he started writing plays and wrote short movie scripts and mostly wrote stuff for his friends. He has done really great with his plays so far and I hope to see many more!


The Day the Crayons Quit, the Musical is currently playing at Oakland Children's Fairyland thru July 26. You can purchase your tickets through the show page.

NOW ACCEPTING BACT 2015-2016 Blogger Applications!
If you are interested in becoming a BACT Blogger, fill out our online application by July 31.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Disney Awards $100,000 Grant to the Bay Area Children’s Theatre

We are ecstatic to announce that Bay Area Children’s Theatre has been awarded a $100,000 grant from The Walt Disney Company to help bring the Disney Musicals in Schools program to the San Francisco Bay Area. BACT was one of only four arts organizations in the nation selected this year to collaborate with Disney Musicals in Schools (DMIS). The program is an outreach initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Group to create ongoing theater programs in local elementary schools.

The Disney grant will fund two years of programming—five schools will be selected this year, and another five next year. The after-school programs are free to participating schools. BACT will select five Oakland public elementary schools to participate in 2015.

“We are overjoyed with this incredible opportunity to bring musical theatre to elementary schools in our community,” says Nina Meehan, executive director of the Bay Area Children’s Theatre. “All children benefit from access to live theatre, both as performers and as audience members. We see the positive impact of performance-based theatre education in all the schools we serve. The Disney Musicals in School program will strengthen our capacity to provide programming and training in the performing arts that schools will be able to sustain. We are extremely grateful to Disney for its commitment to and support for this work.”

Applications are now being taken for the 2015 program from Oakland Unified School District public or charter elementary schools in which 70 percent or more of the student population qualifies for free or reduced-cost lunch.

For more information and to apply, please visit our DMIS webpage or call (510) 2962-4433 ext. 7005 or email The application deadline is September 11, 2015.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Julietta Blogs: Interview with Fancy Nancy!

BACT Blogger Julietta is back! This time, she got to sit down with Miss Fancy Nancy herself, the talented actor Catherine Bartomeo! Julietta is a Bay Area native.  She enjoys art, crafting, theater, nature, and outdoors. In 8 years of soaking up creative talents, she has found many outlets for her creative energy. Activities such as Rainbow Loom, 4-H classes, Lego building and cartwheels take up most of her time.

The Fancy Nancy play was magnefique!! The Fancy Nancy books are about a girl named Nancy who loves being fancy. The play was about the book Fancy Nancy and the Deep Sea Ballet, where Fancy Nancy is going to be in a school play about the ocean, and she wants to be a mermaid, but instead,she is a tree. When she finds out her best friend Bree is the mermaid, she is mad. She wants to be happy for Bree, but she wanted to be the mermaid. At the end, she finds out even though she is a tree in the play, she can still be fancy. My favorite part was the shark rap song. All the characters did a great job in the performance to make the play a fun and fancy experience. Even the audience dressed up fancy! I love reading Fancy Nancy and the play is very fun to see. I think Bay Area Children's Theatre does the best at plays and is my favorite theater to go to and watch plays. I cant wait for the next season for the theater and already know it is going to be amazing like always. I really love bay area childrens theater and highly recommend it to anyone who has never seen their plays.

Catherine Bartomeo as Fancy Nancy and Derricka Smith as Bree!
I got to interview with Katie who is playing Fancy Nancy. She gets into character by warming up with the cast by singing a song and thinking about her character. Her advice for kids who want to act is that they should take theater and voice lessons. Her favorite part of the fancy Nancy play is when she finds out she is a tree for the school play instead of a mermaid. Her favorite play she has been in was Cosette in Les Miserables. Her favorite Fancy Nancy book is Fancy Nancy and the Deep Sea Ballet. Her favorite fancy word is Ooh la la. Her favorite part of preparing for plays is getting to research her character. Her favorite fancy accessory is her seashell crown. She has loved being fancy and dressing up since she was little so she thinks it is very great and fun getting to play Fancy Nancy.

Fancy Nancy, the Musical runs thru May 3rd in Berkeley, May 9-17 in San Ramon (all performances are sold out!), May 23-June 7 in Mill Valley, and June 13-21 in San Francisco. Click here for tickets and more info!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Bay Area Children’s Theatre to Perform in Shanghai

The BACT cast of James and the Giant Peach
We have GIANT news to share: Bay Area Children's Theatre is going international! Actors, artists and educators from BACT will be traveling to China this summer to perform our production of James and the Giant Peach! 

Many of you saw our presentation of Pasek & Paul's musical James and the Giant Peach in its California debut this past winter. The executive director of Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre also attended one of our performances and enjoyed the show so much, she has invited us to her theatre as part of a cross-cultural exchange!

Shanghai Children's Art Theatre performance venue.
Photo: Charles Xia

The Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre is a dynamic performing arts organization that is bringing cutting edge children’s programming to the families of Shanghai. It's that city's largest theater dedicated to professional productions for young audiences. BACT will debut James and the Giant Peach in Shanghai with four performances on August 1 and 2.

We are so honored to be included in the theatre’s roster of international visitors for 2015. Our cast and design team are very excited about taking our work abroad for the first time and introducing a vibrant new play in the great tradition of American musical theatre!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Genevieve Blogs: How to Make a China Rabbit Come to Life On Stage

BACT Blogger Genevieve is back! This time, she had a special assignment about our show The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: How do you make a main character who is an inanimate object come to life on-stage? Genevieve is 12 years old and in sixth grade at Kensington Hilltop School. She loves theater and has been going to productions since she was three years old. Genevieve enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and playing piano. She lives in Kensington with her parents and two younger siblings. Genevieve just played Hamlet in her school play. She thinks BACT is awesome and everybody who works there really inspires her!

     Most of us have had imaginary friends, stuffed animals, or dolls. Whenever we play with them, we usually imagine and create what this inanimate object is thinking, either by saying it out loud, or thinking it in our heads. In books, authors can simply write what the object is thinking. However, in live theater, it’s much harder to explain exactly what the doll or stuffed animal is thinking so that the audience will understand. 

     People who take part in productions with inanimate creatures must be very creative. In Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s (BACT) most recent production called The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, the main character is a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. He belongs to a little girl and one day he is lost and re-discovered by several new families. In this story Edward Tulane learns humility and love and is exposed to sadness for the first time and really does go on a miraculous journey. Although he imagines many things and tries to talk to people, he cannot be heard or understood by humans.

     I imagine that it was probably really hard to figure out how to make Edward heard by the audience. It is really important that he is heard, or else the story wouldn’t make very much sense. The creative and production teams explained what Edward was thinking on stage by having the characters hold a china rabbit doll, as if he was a normal doll. Nearby, another actor stood with a guitar, speaking Edward’s thoughts to the audience. The actor speaking Edward’s words stayed close to the doll and was perfectly still as if he was an inanimate object.

     It was brave of the playwright to take on the challenge of turning this story into a play, and for BACT to produce it, because it is more common for books to have objects as main characters. In books, authors can write about the adventures and the object’s conversations. In plays, it is different. I don’t know if I have ever seen a play like this one! It must have been a very difficult production to be a part of.

     I loved this production because it had live music and an interesting storyline. It was filled with happiness, sadness, hopefulness, and most especially love. I enjoyed the interesting people and props that were a part of the play. I also thought that the acting was really good. I am thankful to everybody who took part of this production.


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane runs thru March 22nd at the Osher Studio in downtown Berkeley, then runs from March 28-April 12 at the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco. Click here for tickets.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Genevieve Blogs: Ron S. McCan, Costume Designer for Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds

BACT Blogger Genevieve is back! This time, she was able to interview Ron S. McCan, costume designer for Three Little BirdsGenevieve is 12 years old and in sixth grade at Kensington Hilltop School. She loves theater and has been going to productions since she was three years old. Genevieve enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and playing piano. She lives in Kensington with her parents and two younger siblings. Genevieve just played Hamlet in her school play. She thinks BACT is awesome and everybody who works there really inspires her!

     Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s (BACT) has just started showing an amazing production called Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. It is colorful, filled with expression, and very true to Jamaican culture and music. When I looked around at the rest of the audience, everybody looked so engaged, sitting at the edge of their seats, thinking, “What’s going to happen next?” The show was a perfect mixture of exciting, silly, and even just a little bit scary. One thing that really struck me was the amazing, detailed costumes that were designed by Ron S. McCan.
Ron S. McCan
     This is Mr. McCan’s first time designing costumes for BACT, and he absolutely loves it. Everybody there is really supportive and fun. This play, Three Little Birds, has actually been his favorite production that he has designed costumes for. It has fun music, and it just felt right for him. When Mr. McCan first found out that he would be designing costumes for Three Little Birds, he was so excited. He loves the work that BACT does. He likes how exciting it is for kids. He also thought that all the different bird characters were cool and fun.
     When he was a kid, Mr. McCan didn’t think that he would be a costume designer. He thought that he would be an actor. However, his mom was a costume designer, so that’s how he got interested. Now, he designs costumes and acts (and he likes both of them equally because you have to be creative for both of them). The most recent play that he acted in was called Jesus Christ Superstar. He also teaches high school. Mr. McCan is a Bob Marley fan. His favorite song by Marley is “Is This Love”, which is actually a song used in Three Little Birds.
     Ziggy and Nansi are the main characters. They are average, eleven-year-old kids. Because Mr. McCan is a high school teacher, he found his inspiration for these kids by looking at how his freshman students dress. He also based their costumes off nephews and nieces. He wanted them to look cool and colorful, but like normal kids. Mr. McCan knew that in Jamaica it is very hot. Other than that, people in Jamaica just dress like how we dress in America. So Mr. McCan dressed them the way we dress here, but in clothes that will keep them cool. Mr. McCan buys some parts of costumes and makes some of the costumes.
Anthony Rollins-Mullens as Duppy
     The hardest costume that Mr. McCan designed for Three Little Birds was Duppy’s costume. This specific costume took him the longest to make out of any other character in this play (it took him two whole months!). Duppy had big, glowing eyes, and had hair on the back. These were hard to create. Duppy had so many things that he had to do, and, to make it even more challenging, he had a big headdress. Mr. McCan had to glue every individual feather on to this headpiece. Actually, he had to do this for every bird costume in Three Little Birds. Mr. McCan gets his inspiration for costumes from pictures. He got a lot of inspiration for Three Little Birds by looking at pictures of Caribbean carnivals.
The cast of Three Little Birds
     Mr. McCan loved making many of the costumes for Three Little Birds. One of his favorites was Dr. Bird because he was modeled after the Red-Billed Steamertail Hummingbird which is the national symbol of Jamaica. He loves the bright colors. He also loved making Duppy because of the hair he stole from children and the glowing eyes. He liked Nansi because of her bright color scheme. Her shirt also played with cool shapes and patterns. He enjoyed doing Tacoomah, as well, because the actress who played her (Taylor Jones) really wanted a big headdress, which was fun to make.
     If Mr. McCan could design costumes for any production, it would be You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. It’s about kids, and it’s very cartoony, which means he could use colorful costumes. The most challenging play that he ever designed costumes for was The Mad Woman of Challiot. The reason it was so hard was because it took place in Paris in 1915, when there was a very specific style. Men had tuxedos and woman had to wear lots of wigs.
     Thanks for being such a fun person to interview, Mr. McCan! You love to imagine and create amazing things. I think he was the perfect costume designer for this particular production. Also, thanks to Min Kahng for organizing this interview. And, of course, thanks to the whole crew at BACT for putting on the amazing, creative, colorful production…Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds! I can’t wait for the next play!!!