On February 9, the lights will go up on the world premiere of Ivy + Bean, the Musical, written and composed by Scott Elmegreen and directed by Ben Hanna, based on the New York Times bestselling books by Annie Barrows. I am Nina Meehan, executive director of the Bay Area Children's Theatre (BACT), and I’m ecstatic to be bringing to the stage the wacky adventures of two second graders who couldn’t be more different and yet become fast friends.
Seven-year-old Ivy is quiet and loves to read books, especially books about magical spells, because she wants to be a witch. Bean is outgoing and would love it if the whole world knew who she is. When the two of them get together, there’s mischief and laughter at every turn—along with lessons to be learned about the challenges and joy of family, friendship, and love.
I am a HUGE fan of Annie Barrows. (You may know her as well for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.) My son and I have read every single one of the Ivy + Bean books as a bedtime story. So, last year, I emailed her and asked, "Hey Annie, would you be interested in these amazing books being turned into a musical?" She was THRILLED at this idea, and the process began.
Our first task was finding the right playwright. Scott Elmegreen is one of the most talented human beings I have ever met. He writes, he composes, he creates lyrics, and he does it all with a smile. Yes, he has worked with Jerry Seinfeld and has had a show on Broadway. Yes, he has written a national touring musical that reached over 100,000 children. But the most important thing about Scott and why he is perfect for this project is that he understands how kids talk and behave. Scott read Annie’s books and immediately was on board for the project.
We put together a workshop in summer 2012 to test out the script in front of a small invited audience. Everyone left the theatre with a smile on their face, singing the "Pancake Court" song. (Ivy and Bean live on Pancake Court.) The kids who saw the workshop loved the stories and the characters. One little girl commented, "It's just how I saw it in my head when I read it" - and that was in a staged reading with no sets, costumes or props!
Annie Barrows has worked with us throughout the whole development process, giving Scott and Ben the inside scoop on who these two little girls are and why they do the things they do. At one point, she told us that Ivy and Bean are best friends, but they would never use the term BFF, because the nature of their friendship is inclusive, not exclusive. They want to invite the whole world in to share their adventures. (So do we!)
Why do we need your help? Because our box office revenues alone will not cover the cost of creating this new work of theatre. To find the additional resources we need (for everything from publisher rights to dramaturgy to workshops) we must rely on foundation support and support from friends like you who share our excitement about introducing children to live theatre and want to help create a high quality production that will touch children and their families now and for years to come.
This show is going to be a phenomenal experience for all of the kids and the adults who come to the theatre, because we are doing everything we can to capture the language and feel of Annie’s stories. The actors will bring the characters in the books to life. The sets and costumes will reflect Sophie Blackall’s amazing book illustrations. The music is fun, catchy, and totally hummable on your way out the door. And, most importantly, the story is hysterical, poignant, and totally real. These two girls figure out how to be friends, even though they are polar opposites, because they both share the power of imagination.
I know. I had a “Bean” best friend when I was a kid. Her name was Robin, and she sat down next to me on my first day of second grade at a new school and offered to share her Oreos. Every person who sees this show—adult or child—will connect with that wondrous moment of finding a person who just clicks.
As a small theatre company dedicated to young audiences, we believe passionately in the power of theatre to build community, spark creativity, and introduce children to the larger world in which we live.
Our goal for Ivy + Bean, the Musical, is to produce a new work that children and their families will love and recognize as worthy in every detail of Annie Barrow’s brilliantly crafted, imaginative world of Pancake Court.
Your investment will help us make Ivy + Bean, the Musical, an artistic success!
Risks and challenges
Developing a new work is very challenging, because the first performance is really our first opportunity to share the whole production—script, actors, sets, costumes, props, choreography, music—with the people we care about most, our audience. We believe that Ivy + Bean, the Musical, is going to be a huge success, but you never know exactly what you’ve created until opening day!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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