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'OWEN & MZEE' Will Come to Life Onstage at Vital Theatre in 2018

Vital Theatre Company has announced that it has acquired rights to the book OWEN & MZEE: THE TRUE STORY OF A REMARKABLE FRIENDSHIP, which will be adapted into a musical for family audiences in 2018.

The #1 New York Times best-selling children's book is about the friendship between a tortoise and an orphaned hippopotamus in Kenya after the Indian Ocean earthquake. It was written by father and daughter team Craig and Isabella Hatkoff and Dr. Paula Kahumbu, who oversaw the animal sanctuary in Mombasa, Kenya, that Owen and Mzee call home. For more, visit

"The heartwarming true story of'Owen and Mzee' continues to inspire readers of all ages, more than a decade after its initial publication," said Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade. "Scholastic is proud to be the publisher of this remarkable picture book by Craig Hatkoff and his daughter Isabella, and we look forward to seeing the story come to life on stage."

"We are delighted to be working with the Vital Theatre on the musical stage production of 'Owen and Mzee'. Vital is the undisputed gold standard for children's musical adaptations for family-friendly entertainment,"said co-author Craig Hatkoff.

This unexpected friendship between a baby hippo and a giant tortoise captivated the world," commented Stephen Sunderlin, Artistic Director of Vital Theatre Company. "Owen and Mzee have much to teach us about resiliency, diversity and overcoming our preconceptions, and Vital Theatre Company is delighted to be bringing their beautiful story to our theater's young audiences."

Craig M. Hatkoff (Author) and his young daughters, Juliana and Isabella, have created the beloved Turtle Pond Collection published by Scholastic.The Hatkoffs have authored multiple best-selling children's books.Craig is the Founder and CEO of Turtle Pond Publications, LLC (, which offers remarkable stories of hope and friendship about real animals and real world issues, empowering kids and parents to help save our planet. Their books include the #1 New York Times best-selling "Owen & Mzee: The True Story Of A Remarkable Friendship", which has been published in 17 languages; "Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World", about the polar bear cub Knut from the Berlin Zoo; "Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again", about the disabled dolphin Winter; "Looking for Miza", about the endangered mountain gorillas; and "Leo the Snow Leopard", about Leo, who was orphaned in the mountains of Pakistan and now lives at the Bronx Zoo.

The Hatkoffs' series of children's books, known as the Turtle Pond Collection, has won numerous prestigious awards, including the American Book Association Book of the Year and the Christophers Award. In 2002, Mr. Hatkoff moreover co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Institute with Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro.

Vital Theatre Company is dedicated to producing entertaining and educational theatre for young audiences. It commissions and produces three to five musicals for children each season. Since its founding in 1999, Vital Theatre Company has been honored with the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Family Musical, two Awards for Excellence by the Off-Off Broadway Review, and has received high acclaim from audiences and critics alike for being "a wonderful place for parents to introduce their kids to the glories of live theatre, done well and at modest prices" (Off-Off Broadway Review). Vital Theatre Company has presented over 100 original productions for hundreds of thousands of children and their families. Go to

From This Author - BroadwayWorld JR