'THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR', THE CAT AND THE HAT and More Make Up The Rose Theater's 2014-15 Season

'THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR', THE CAT AND THE HAT and More Make Up The Rose Theater's 2014-15 Season

The Rose Theater's upcoming season invites audiences to gallop off to the Old West, fly away to a distant planet in another dimension and float away holding a magical umbrella. The nine main stage shows promise to transport audiences to new worlds and open their minds to a multitude of experiences.

The Rose's seven regular season shows are free with Rose membership or $18 per ticket for non-members. The Rose's two premium event shows, A Christmas Story: The Musical and Disney's Mary Poppins are $25 main floor, $20 balcony. Rose members receive a $7 discount off the price of premium event tickets.

The lobby opens 45 minutes prior to each performance. Seating begins 30 minutes before curtain.

The full 2014-15 season schedule and details are below.

The season opens with a special presentation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favorites September 5-21, 2014. Featuring evocative music, innovative puppetry and stunning black light visual effects, the popular children's book comes to life on The Rose stage courtesy of the renowned Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia.

"We are giving our audience a show done by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia that normally plays big Broadway touring houses, like the Orpheum, and we are doing it at member prices," says Rose artistic director Matt Gutschick. "The piece uses innovative blacklight puppetry to bring one of the best-selling children's books of all time to life."

Adapted, directed and designed by Jim Morror, with music by Steven Nayor, The Very Hungry Caterpillar follows the adventures of one very tiny and very hungry caterpillar that eats his way through an amazing variety of foods. The story follows him through his eventual metamorphosis when he turns into a beautiful butterfly. The story is narrated by Gordon Pinsent.

Audiences will immediately recognize Eric Carle's signature imagery as the inspiration for the show's props and set design. The use of black light enhances the unique puppetry to create a visually-stunning piece unlike anything else that has ever been presented at The Rose.

In addition to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the 60-minute show features vignettes on other Eric Carle books, including Little Cloud and The Mixed Up Chameleon.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favorites will be presented on Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 5 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, September 13.

Dr. Seuss' most beloved character bounds onto The Rose stage in The Cat in the Hat, October 3-19, 2014. True to the popular rhyming classic loved by children of all ages, a rainy day becomes a zany day when two siblings receive a visit from a chaos-creating caller, the Cat in the Hat. Katie Mitchell has adapted the original book into an energetic adaptation of the iconic tale is sure to take audiences on a wacky, wild and wonderful ride unlike any other. The riot-a-minute, 45-minute play will particularly appeal to ages three and up.

"Director Kevin Ehrhart is creating a relationship between Dr. Seuss' fantastical world and the one in which we live, something we don't often see when Seuss books are put on stage. This highly physical play will be sure to have young people and adults in stitches with laughter," says Gutshick.

Ehrhart is no stranger to the world of Seuss, having donned the iconic striped hat as The Cat in The Rose's production of Seussical: The Musical in 2012. He now steps forward to lead the cast of The Cat in the Hat. He has been a member of the Omaha Theater Company staff since 1988, serving as a director, actor and instructor. His directing credits at The Rose include A Year in the Life of Frog and Toad, Pinkalicious - The Musical, Charlotte's Web, Richard Scarry's Busytown, Amelia Bedelia, Treasure Island, and Old Yeller, among others.

The Cat in the Hat will be presented on Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 5 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, October 11.

A Wrinkle in Time (November 1-16, 2014) transports audiences on an adventure through time and space. The science fiction adventure adapted by John Glore from the book by Madeleine L'Engle follows a young girl, Meg, on a quest to another dimension in order save her father. With the assistance of several celestial beings, a classmate and her brother Charles Wallace, Meg takes off across the space-time continuum to do whatever it takes to rescue her dad.

"A Wrinkle in Time is our first show of the season aimed at older students," explains Gutschick. "The sci-fi adventure will be staged using stunning visuals, including digital projections. This should be a thrilling ride, based on one of the most beloved books for older readers."

Children ages six and up will find the complex storyline and supernatural plot compelling, as they relate to Meg's personal insecurities and desire to save her family. In the end, A Wrinkle in Time conveys a key message about the importance of family and love. The show runs 75 minutes without an intermission.

Guest director Kit McKay will lead the production. McKay is the founder of Parallel 45 Theater Company, a theater company in northern Michigan with a mission to engage public and collective acts of imagination. She returns to The Rose after directing the theater's production of Tarzan. Her previous directing credits include Our Town, Metamorphoses, A Christmas Carol in Prose and Shakespeare's R&J.

"We are bringing back celebrated director Kit McKay, who is the founder of Parallel 45 Theater Company, because her imagination is absolutely boundless," says Gutschick.

A Wrinkle in Time will be presented on Fridays at 7pm, Saturdays at 2 and 5 pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, November 8.

The outrageous holiday classic makes its Omaha debut at The Rose with a toe-tapping musical twist December 5-28, 2014. A Christmas Story: The Musical features nine-year-old Ralphie Parker on his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts - a Red Ryder air rifle. With music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the musical adaptation by Joseph Robinette delivers all the classic laughs of the original motion picture: Flick getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole,Dad receiving his special award, Ralphie's disastrous visit to Santa, and much more.

Sure to be a holiday hit, A Christmas Story: The Musical will delight families of all ages, particularly those with children five and up. The premium event show runs two hours with an intermission.

Gutschick is eager to be the first to produce the show in the Omaha area. "Ralphie's adventures have always made me laugh, but this musical adaptation takes the hilarity to a whole new level. When the piece became available to professional theaters, I knew we had to produce it. Audiences in Omaha have never seen the show onstage, and I am pleased to offer it here at The Rose," he says.

A Christmas Story: The Musical will be presented Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, December 20.

The world premiere of Buffalo Bill's Cowboy Band will run January 23 - February 8, 2015. Nebraska's own Buffalo Bill Cody is featured in this original play highlighting a moment in our region's history. Buffalo Bill's Cowboy Band, written by Omaha native Max Sparber, catches a glimpse of Buffalo Bill as he shares the story of his life with his daughter, relaying his experiences as an adventurer, cowboy, buffalo hunter, Pony Express rider and showman. In this world premiere performance, Buffalo Bill looks out on a West very different from the one from his childhood and shares his insight on the passing of time.

The show is truly a homegrown production. Sparber is workshopping the script with students from Brownell-Talbot, allowing the students to guide the story's development. As Gutschick explains, the hope is that this process of involving the show's target audience will produce a show that is both deeply engaging and entertaining.

"The playwright is making this play in full view of its intended audience. Usually a play receives a series of increasingly complex readings before it is actually produced. In this case, we are committing to producing the piece as it is made with its actual audience having the ability to guide the final script we put on the main stage," he says.

Buffalo Bill's Cowboy Band marks a new endeavor for The Rose. "This is the first in a series of world premiere plays exploring our regional identity," says Gutschick. "Bill Cody changed the face of America, and he was deeply rooted right here in Omaha. Students of history will love local playwright Max Sparber's take on Cody's life, and young people will connect with the idea that they have a responsibility to treat other people with kindness."

The show will be directed by Amy Lane. An Omaha native, Lane earned her MFA in Directing from the University of Memphis before moving to Washington where she worked at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. She now serves as the resident director for the Omaha Community Playhouse and an adjunct theater professor at the University of Nebraska - Omaha.

The 70-minute show is being developed for children ages 6 and up. Buffalo Bill's Cowboy Band will be presented Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 5 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, January 31.

The world premiere of Zen Ties will run February 20-March 8, 2015. When an energetic young panda named Koo visits her Uncle Stillwater, he offers her a special challenge: to listen. The result is a quiet tale about patience and compassion, with a bit of Haiku thrown in as well. With Stillwater's help, Koo and the other neighborhood children learn things are not always what they seem, and the "mean old lady" on their street may have more to her story than they ever imagined.

Zen Ties was originally written by Caldecott Honor recipient Jon Muth and is being adapted for the stage by acclaimed playwright Y York.

"As the second world premiere in our season, we have commissioned nationally-renowned playwright Y York to make what she affectionately calls her 'Zen Buddhist panda play,'"says Gutschick.

The Rose has been working with York for more than a year on the adaptation of Zen Ties, coordinating meetings and workshops with the playwright, actors and director. It will be presented for the first time worldwide on The Rose stage.

Perfect for children ages five and up, the gentle tale encourages families to consider the wisdom that can come of simple mindfulness. The show runs 60 minutes without an intermission.

Guest director Jesse Jou (who most recently brought the world of Narnia to life on The Rose stage) will lead the production. "Audiences won't want to leave the beautiful, colorful world director Jesse Jou creates as they encounter a funny story about compassion and growing up," says Gutschick.

Originally from Houston, Texas, Jou is now based in New York City, where he works primarily as a freelance theater director of new plays. His work has been seen at the Lark Play Development Center, the New York International Fringe Festival, The Kitchen Theatre Co., and the Yale Cabaret. He was the artistic director of the 2010 Yale Summer Cabaret and served as the staff repertory director of The Acting Company.

Zen Ties will be presented Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 5 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, February 28.

A boy sets out to protect a poetry-loving dragon in the fairy-tale-with-a-twist, The Reluctant Dragon (March 20-April 4, 2015). Glaston, a young boy living in a small medieval town, dreams of having dangerous and daring dragon encounters like the brave heroes in his books. When bad things start happening in his town, the villagers suspect a dragon may be lurking in the countryside. Glaston boldly ventures out on a quest to defeat the beast, but is surprised to find a gentle giant more interested in poetry and the arts than in terrorizing the peasants. An instant friendship is formed, but could be at risk when a famed dragon-slayer arrives to rid the village of its dragon problem.

Children ages five and up will delight at the dragon's silly antics in the 60 minute show written by Mary Hall Surface.

Gutschick relates A Reluctant Dragon to another popular story. "Fans of the How to Train Your Dragon movies will be thrilled with this story of a misunderstood dragon and the boy who helps him become a member of society. We haven't done a play set in a medieval folk-story land in a long time, so this should be a hilarious and moving theatrical experience for our audiences."

The Reluctant Dragon will be presented Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 5 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, March 28

The heartwarming story about an unlikely barnyard friendship returns to The Rose with Charlotte's Web (April 24-May 10, 2015). Based on the Newberry Medal-winning book by E.B. White, Charlotte's Web tells the story of Wilbur, a piglet runt rescued by a soft-hearted young girl named Fern. When a very gifted spider named Charlotte befriends Wilbur, amazing things begin to happen on Zuckerman's farm.

"This play brought me to tears simply reading the script," says Gutschick. "Classic stories must feel immediate for a production of them to be warranted. The time is right to bring this, the ultimate friendship story, back to the stage."

Families with children over the age of five are sure to love the timeless magic of a story that has touched the hearts of generations of families with its universal themes of friendship and sacrifice. The play runs 60 minutes without an intermission.

Charlotte's Web will be presented Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 5 pm, and Sundaysat 2 pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, May 2.

The Rose's second premium event show (June 5-22, 2015) invites audiences to drift away on a magical umbrella on a truly jolly holiday. Mary Poppins features the irresistible story and unforgettable songs from one of the most popular Disney films of all time. Written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, the show promises to be an unforgettable time at The Rose, with breathtaking dance numbers and spectacular stagecraft. Audiences will be delighted by the Mary Poppins score, which is filled with timeless classics such as "Feed the Birds," "Jolly Holiday," "Step in Time" and the Academy Award-winning "Chim-Chim Cher-ee."

"Disney's inventive adaptation of the Travers book and the resulting movie feels fresh, magical, and brimming with life," says Gutschick. "This is another piece I knew we had to do as soon as it became available to professional theaters.

Mary Poppins tells the story of two children, Jane and Michael, whose over-the-top antics and pranks have sent many a nanny packing. When Mary Poppins arrives on their doorstep, she uses a combination of magic and common sense to teach the family how to value each other again.

The two-hour show will include an intermission and is perfect for families with children over the age of five.

Mary Poppins will be presented Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Interpretation for the hearing impaired will be offered at the 2 pm show on Saturday, June 13.

In addition to its main stage offerings, The Rose will also present a show on its Hitchcock Stage, specifically intended for very young audiences.

Back by popular demand, Balloonacy returns to The Rose for a second year in a row January 10-31, 2015. This inventive tale is packed with physical comedy that promises to keep young children engaged and thoroughly entertained. Told almost completely without dialogue, the show tells the story of a solitary old man whose life is turned upside-down by a mischievous balloon who insists on becoming his friend. Actor Kevin Ehrhart will again play the part of the old man in a performance that is reminiscent of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

The 30-minute play is packed with physical comedy that is especially suited for children over age 2.

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