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Thank You, Mr. Falker, A New Musical's video poster

A musical based on Patricia Polacco's picture book, about her own childhood reading disability and the teacher who helped her triumph. Read more

Santa Monica, CA Theater
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This project was successfully funded on May 1, 2011.

A musical based on Patricia Polacco's picture book, about her own childhood reading disability and the teacher who helped her triumph.

Santa Monica, CA Theater
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About this project

We are so grateful to our backers and yes, this project continues to accept donations after our initial goal. Tax-deductible gifts will help us reach more families and make this new musical even better!

About the Book

Patricia Polacco's treasured picture book, based on her own childhood reading disability and the teacher who helped her triumph, is about to become a new musical to inspire and entertain children and adults. Young Trisha is eager to read, to taste the "sweetness of knowledge" that her grandfather has always revered. But at school she struggles with a learning disability, where words and letters on the page are all mixed up in her brain. Trisha falls behind with her schoolwork and endures classmates' taunts until her new teacher, Mr. Falker, helps her to blossom and eventually triumph. Ms. Polacco is the author/illustrator of more than 50 books for children and we are grateful to her and to Penguin Group (USA) for allowing us to share this story through music.

About the Musical

Selected to participate in L.A.'s Festival of New American Musicals, and supported in part by a grant from the City of Santa Monica, this musical was workshopped in summer 2010, then revised, and is preparing for a world premiere in May 2011.

The award-winning nonprofit Morgan-Wixson Theatre (AATE's 2008 Outstanding New Children's Theatre Company) is known for its page-to-stage literary adaptations, connecting literacy and the arts. To see a short TV news clip about our Y.E.S. (Youth Education/Entertainment Series) plays for families, click here.

We are proud to present this new work, with score composed by rising musical theatre writer Sarah Taylor Ellis, a Duke University graduate who is now a PhD student at nearby UCLA. Lyrics and book were penned by Andrew Bentz to capture Ms. Polacco's poignant tale with a dose of humor and embedded lessons about bullying, individuality, perseverance, and the joy of reading. When he's not writing wonderful lyrics and lines for this show -- such as "a good book never really ends" -- Andrew is a law student and an editor of the University of Virginia Law Review. The world premiere is to be directed by Lane Williamson, whose credits include UCLA Theatre and Lancaster Performing Arts Center. Choreographer is Christopher Albrecht, who choreographed the workshop production, has worked at UCLA Theatre, and is the resident choreographer with Act III Theatre Ensemble.

To be tempted by the music from this show, click here to hear some demo tracks.


The show features a cast of five experienced adult actors and ten youth. Unlike most children's theatre, our production uses real live kids to play the children's roles, so we auditioned and cast talented singer-actors ages 8 - 12 from local schools. In addition to presenting this musical for public perfiormances over three weekends in May, we plan to share Ms. Polacco's story with approximately 750 schoolchildren on special field trips to see the musical in a real theatre. For many of our young audience members, this will be the first live musical they've ever seen.


To encourage a diverse range of families to attend, we are keeping ticket prices low ($6 - $8). We all know that nonprofit performing arts cannot exist on ticket revenue alone, and we are fortunate to have secured some financial support from the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Arts Commission, which enables us to have live music. We are asking for tax-deductible contributions to provide more free tickets for underserved youth and particularly to help offset the production costs, to enhance the set and costume budgets, to provide promotional support, and to pay small honoraria to the creative team who is giving so generously of their time to make the world premiere a reality.

About Dyslexia

Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder for children today. According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia "is an impairment in your brain's ability to translate written images received from your eyes into meaningful language." Modern therapy usually means individualized tutoring, a multisensory educational program, and emotional support for the child. Not coincidentally, these are the same techniques young Trisha's teacher Mr. Falker uses in this real-life story about struggle and triumph.

To learn more about dyslexia (developmental reading disorder), you can use these links from the National Institutes of Health, the International Dyslexia Association, and -- for kids --

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Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    3 backers

    Your choice of custom ringtones from the show, composed by Sarah Taylor Ellis. Be calmed, amused, & delighted every time your electronic device goes off, signaling that you are the proud backer of a brand new musical. FRIENDLY WARNING: if this project is funded, you will be given a selection of at least six ringtones, and it may be nearly impossible to choose just ONE.

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    5 backers

    Your name will appear in the special "Kickstarter Backers" list in the World Premiere program, showcasing your support for the arts and for literacy. Includes the reward from the first tier: one custom ringtone.

  • You selected
    Pledge $45 or more

    1 backer

    A beautiful 8 x 10 cast photo, suitable for framing, your child's scrapbook, or (humbly) showing off at home or work, since it will be embellished with a personal message of gratitude to you or your child, from the cast of Thank You, Mr. Falker, a New Musical. Includes all rewards from the $15 - $25 tiers: one custom ringtone plus recognition in the program.

  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    1 backer

    Three additional unique rewards! First, During all performances, your name (or your family's name) will appear prominently on the "Presented By" placard on the lobby easel.. Next, you'll receive a color poster from the show, autographed or inscribed if you like. Also, we'll send you a striking color card announcing "I'm a Backer of Thank You, Mr. Falker, A New Musical." Think how great this card will look displayed on your desk, car visor, or 'fridge, inspiring others to support nonprofit performing arts as you do. Includes all rewards from the $15 - $45 tiers: one custom ringtone, recognition in the program, & the cast photo.

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    4 backers

    Two VIP reserved tickets to the performance date of your choice, plus all the rewards from the first 4 tiers. That's right, to thank you for your generous support, we're offering one custom ringtone, recognition in the program and on the lobby placard, the cast photo, a color poster, and the "I'm a Backer" card. Note that performances are Sat/Sun mornings at 11am, May 14 - 29, 2011 at Santa Monica's Morgan-Wixson Theatre.

  • You selected
    Pledge $180 or more

    0 backers

    Support literacy and this brand-new musical with your brand-new book bag. Look inside to discover your own keepsake copy of the book Thank You, Mr. Falker, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco and autographed by the cast! The bag is also suitable for mundane items like groceries, when you're not hauling literature around. Naturally, we'll include the rewards from the first 5 tiers.

  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    0 backers

    Sure, plenty of other supporters may be enjoying their custom ringtone. But you and your child will walk in the door of the Morgan-Wixson humming songs like "Why You Were Made," "Storybook Song," and the show's signature ballad, "I Can't Read," because YOU will have your own cast-album. Go ahead, crank up the song "Frenetic Phonetics" in your car, but please do watch your speedometer, because this music makes you want to FLY. Naturally, we'll include the rewards from the first 6 tiers.

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    2 backers Limited (2 left of 4)

    Composer Sarah Taylor Ellis and lyricist Andrew Bentz will write a song just for you or a loved one -- an unforgettable gift to recognize a birthday or anniversary, or "just because." Your song can be up-tempo or a ballad, with you providing the theme and ideas. Delivery will be by August 1, 2011 (since Sarah is writing her dissertation and Andrew has a summer clerkship!) and you'll receive the sheet music and a CD recording, plus the audio e-file for sharing. Shhhh, we're superb at keeping secrets, if you want the song to be a surprise. And as if this wasn't enough, we'll also happily give you the rewards for the first 7 tiers. Because we love you. Seriously. Love. You.

Funding period

- (23 days)