BIG NATE - THE MUSICAL Comes to The Rose Theater, 11/8-24
Comic book antics, over-the-top personalities and a slamming battle of the bands will have audiences cheering at The Rose Theater's production of Big Nate: The Musical, November 8-24, 2013. The raucous romp follows the misadventures of Lincoln Peirce's comic book hero Nate Wright, a self-proclaimed artistic genius who is destined for greatness, despite holding the highest detention record in school.
Director Justin Perez is responsible for transforming the two-dimensional world of Big Nate into its 3D form.
"We've found really great actors who are willing to play and try new things, and designers who are willing to create something that flows easily from naturalism into a high-octane dance party," said Perez.
Set to an energetic rock-and-roll soundtrack by Jason Loewith and Christopher Youstra, Big Nate: The Musical celebrates young people's innate creativity and exuberance while acknowledging the importance of friendship and perseverance. The lessons are taught with a good dose of humor, clever witticisms and just good fun.
"We really embrace Nate's rock-and-roller sensibility," said Perez. "He's in a band with his two best buddies, they write songs and they have a great time. We really wanted the entire production to spring from that place of creativity and fun."
Audiences will delight in as the popular comic book sixth grader springs to life from the funny pages. The story centers on the antics of Nate Wright, a detention-riddled sixth grader who hopes to capture the beautiful Jenny's heart by winning first prize in his school's "Battle of the Bands." Although his band, Enslave the Mollusk, seems to be a shoo-in to win the prize, their chances are jeopardized by Nate's ever-growing collection of detention slips. It doesn't help when the girl of Nate's dreams teams up with his arch-rival to form the sap-pop band Rainbows and Ponies, forcing Nate to take his game to an all-star level. With his friends' help, he sets out to make it through competition week without any detentions.
"In the end, Nate succeeds most with honesty and authenticity. I think that is one of the most important things that kids can remember at the end of this show," said Perez.
Nods to Iowa-native Lincoln Peirce's Big Nate comic strip can be seen throughout the play, giving an almost sketchbook appearance to the entire production.
"The design team has challenged themselves to honor Peirce's original drawings -- what people wear, how things look -- but also to create a world that is more detailed, more grounded, more realistic, almost as if the drawings then become Nate's representations of the things around him," said Perez. "It is a way to highlight how Nate sees everything in the world as an artistic opportunity."
Big Nate draws us into Nate's own inventive, creative world -- a world where his drawings envelope his life. Just as Nate's art fills his mind, the art also fills The Rose auditorium. From top to bottom, Nate's comic book art forms a graphic whirlwind of illustrations that open up to reveal different scenes of the play. Actors will also incorporate illustrated props that that they pull right out of the walls, contributing to the comic book feel.
"We are really thrilled about the entire scenic design and elements of the costume design. Everything has a very illustrated look -- almost as if the entire stage -- and at times, the actors themselves -- are a sketchbook from which props, set pieces and people come to life," said Perez.
The highlight of the show is an interactive band competition, with the audience choosing the ultimate winner of the coveted prize by way of wild applause. Which of the three bands will win the contest? Only the audience knows.
"The Battle of the Bands is my favorite part of the show," said Perez. "The three performances are amazing in their own way, and hopefully our audience will feel that."
Big Nate: The Musical is a fun-filled production bursting with positive creative energy that is sure to entertain young and old alike.
"Big Nate reminds us just how fantastic it is to have an imagination," said Perez.
This is Perez' first experience with The Rose Theater. He is a founding member of Parallel 45, a theater company in northern Michigan where he serves as actor and choreographer. He is also a company member of The Dance Cartel in New York City, a company that seeks to reinvent how audiences experience dance performance.