Riverside Theatre Announces LEO: A GHOST STORY

Riverside Theatre Announces LEO: A GHOST STORYAllen D. Cornell, Producing Artistic Director/CEO of Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, announces a new musical production by Riverside Theatricals, a division of Riverside Theatre. Focused on the creation of new musicals, Riverside Theatricals' first two productions have focused towards young audiences starring professional performers. Leo, A Ghost Story is the division's second production and plays Riverside Theatre October 20-28, 2017.

Based on the award-winning book by Author Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson, Leo, A Ghost Story follows the adventures of Leo, a small kid, who just wants to make friends.

Featuring 9 original songs written by Ken Clifton with a libretto by Mr. Clifton and Ian Thompson, Leo, A Ghost Story is the delightful new musical for the entire family.

"Riverside Theatricals is a very exciting venture," said Mr. Cornell. "By creating original works, this new division will expand Riverside Theatre's mission in providing a total theatre arts experience for children and adults."

In the show, Leo is just like any kid. He likes to draw, make snacks, and have fun. The only problem with Leo is that he is a ghost and most people can't see him. When a new family moves into Leo's home, he attempts to welcome them, but scared, they want nothing to do with him and he is forced to leave. Invisible and lonely, he meets Jane, a kid with tremendous imagination and an open heart who invites him to play. And that's when their friendship and fun-filled adventures begin.

"I'm so impressed with the team who worked to make this musical," said Mr. Barnett "Leo was influenced by certain character-centered picture books from the mid-20th century, especially Madeleine. I wanted to take some of the storytelling principles from those classic books I loved and make a story that felt contemporary, too. This whole thing is exciting to me."

Ken Clifton, Riverside Theatre's resident Music Director, wrote all the original songs for the hour-long show, which also includes musical underscoring throughout the production.

"If you've ever felt invisible and just wanted a real friend, Leo understands," said Mr. Clifton. "Leo is a ghost that meets a feisty city girl with a huge imagination. This is a fun bright story that also has a dragon fight, sneak thieves breaking in, dancing and a multi-media set. You'll come out with a real live friend."

Directed and Musically Directed by Mr. Clifton, the Leo cast includes: Sydnee Elder (Mom, Mimi), Najha Kay Forbey (Jane, The Scientist). Shivam Patel (Ruffs, The Priest), Chris Robertson (Dad, Vinnie, Dragon), Alissa Walker (The Boy, Officer Vitale, Mews), and Kimmy Zerega (Leo).

The Leo creative team includes: Emily Perry (Scenic Design), Anna Hillbery (Costume Design), Sarah Elliot (Lighting Design), Andrew Stroud (Sound Design), and Alex Kesner (Stage Manager).

Performances are: October 20 & 27 @ 7:30pm, October 21 & 28 @ 1:30pm & 5:30pm. Tickets are $10 and can purchased by calling the Riverside Box Office at 772-231-6990 or online at www.riversidetheatre.com.

Mac Barnett is a New York Times-bestselling author whose books for children have sold more than one million copies in the United States and have been translated into over 30 languages. His picture books include two Caldecott-Honor-winning collaborations with Jon Klassen: Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, which also won the E.B White Read-Aloud Award, and Extra Yarn, which won both the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award. Leo: A Ghost Story, illustrated by Christian Robinson, and The Skunk, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, were named two of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2015 by The New York Times. Mac's novels include the Brixton Brothers mysteries and The Terrible Two series.

Ken Clifton has been Musical Director on Riverside productions: Saturday Night Fever, Sister Act, A Chorus Line, Memphis, West Side Story, Crazy For You, South Pacific, Les Miserables, The Producers, Guys & Dolls, 42ndStreet, La Cage aux Folles, Hello Dolly! and Damn Yankees, among others. His work has appeared at Tokyo Disney, the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, and a project for the Disney Cruise Lines recorded by the London Philharmonic. He has coached vocals at the Steinhardt School of Music at NYU and coached Jennifer Hudson for the final callback of her Academy award-winning role in the movie Dreamgirls. Some favorite musicals he's conducted are: Avenue Q, Chicago, The Full Monty, Thoroughly Modern Millie, West Side Story, The King and I with Lorenzo Lamas, All Shook Up with Sally Struthers, Damn Yankees with Carson Kressley, and Sunset Boulevard with Stephanie Powers. He wrote the original score and co-wrote the libretto of Riverside Theatricals' inaugural production, Poodleful.

Riverside Theatre is America's largest professional theatre in a small town. Originally built in 1973 on a 54-acre tract of land designated by the city of Vero Beach as a cultural park, Riverside Theatre was erected with funds solely raised from private donations. For the first few years of its existence, it served primarily as a venue for local theatre groups, traveling productions, and celebrity performances. The most pivotal moment in the history of the Theatre, however, took place in 1983 when the Theatre's Board hired Allen D. Cornell as Artistic Director and set in motion a plan to make Riverside a professional producing theatre. Riverside Theatre produces Broadway musicals, contemporary plays, and children's theatre on three stages. In 2006, Riverside went through a major renovation with the reconfiguration of seating in the Stark Stage, the addition of the Waxlax Stage, and an expansion of the lobby. Riverside Theatre serves Florida's entire Treasure and Space Coast with over 100,000 patrons and students using the facilities annually.

Riverside Theatricals is the new division of Riverside Theatre. With over 40 years of experience producing Broadway-quality shows with its own sets, casting and direction, Riverside is now creating original works for tours. Poodleful, created in 2015, was its first production geared towards young audiences.

Riverside Theatre is located at 3250 Riverside Park Drive, Vero Beach, FL 32963. Riverside Theatre programs are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Riverside Theatre is a member of the Cultural Council of Indian River County, the Indian River Chamber of Commerce, and the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce.

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