Arden Theatre Company Presents The Flea and the Professor 5/4-6/12


As part of Arden Children's Theatre, Arden Theatre Company presents a new musical based on Hans Christian Andersen's final tale: The Flea and the Professor, written by JorDan Harrison with music by Richard Gray, lyrics by Harrison and Gray. Directed by Obie Award winner Anne Kauffman, this play for families will be on stage May 4-June 12, 2011.

A young professor loses everything in the world but the flea who lives in his vest. And that turns out to be plenty. He and the flea become the best of friends, start a circus act, and set off to tour the world. Together the heroes must overcome shipwrecks, cannibals, and tickling. Adapted from the last story by the author of The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Emperor's New Clothes, this new musical odyssey celebrates the excitement of the unknown with catchy songs and fantastical stage magic that will entertain children and parents alike.

"The Arden has presented thirty-two new works for our main stage series, and we are thrilled that this production is our first new play for kids." says Terrence J. Nolen, Arden's Producing Artistic Director. "We commissioned JorDan Harrison four years ago to write a new play for us and were so excited when he decided to write for Arden Children's Theatre. Jordan's voice embraces whimsy, humor and great theatricality. He is the perfect writer to bring this story by Hans Christian Andersen to life."

"We are deeply committed to creating world-class productions for kids and are thrilled that so many first rate artists share this passion," adds Nolen. The cast includes Barrymore Award-winning actors Scott Greer as The Flea and Rob McClure as The Professor. Greer recently made his Off-Broadway debut in Wittenberg to rave reviews; McClure appeared on Broadway in Avenue Q and at Center City Encores in Where's Charley? They are joined by 2011 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow Mary Martello as the Cannibal Queen, Alex Keiper as The Cannibal Princess and Aaron Cromie as The Sea Captain/The Loyal Subject. Rounding out the cast are New York-based actors Kim Sullivan as Cannibal King/Hans Christian Andersen and Annie McNamara (Elevator Repair Service's GATZ at The Public Theater) as The Storyteller.

One of the hottest young writers on the regional theatre scene, writer JorDan Harrison has been produced at Berkeley Rep, the Humana Festival and Portland Center Stage and has received numerous prestigious fellowships, awards and commissions. Composer Richard Gray's children's musicals have been produced by Seattle Children's Theatre and he has twice been a finalist for the Fred Ebb Foundation Award for new musical theatre artists.

Obie Award winning director Anne Kauffman returns to Philadelphia to direct Flea after her Barrymore Award-winning production of Becky Shaw at The Wilma Theater. New York-based designers Louisa Thompson (set) and Olivera Gajic (costumes) work with Philadelphia based lighting designer Thom Weaver (Barrymore Award nomination for Blue Door), 2010 Tony Award winning sound designer Rob Kaplowitz (Barrymore Award nomination for Blue Door), musical director Dan Kazemi (Barrymore Award for Avenue X at 11th Hour Theatre Company) and choreographer Jenn Rose (Barrymore Award nomination for Avenue X).

Last year, The Flea and the Professor was selected to be part of the Kennedy Center's New Visions/New Voices Festival, a biennial week-long festival to support and stimulate the creation of new plays and musicals for young audiences.

Recommended for families with children ages five and older, every performance of The Flea and the Professor includes a post-show question and answer session with the cast, an opportunity to meet the actors in the lobby after the performance, and a free commemorative show poster for all kids. This production is sponsored by Comcast and Sprout.

The Flea and the Professor begins performances on Wednesday, May 4, with previews through May 7. Opening night is 7pm Saturday, May 7. Closing is set for Sunday, June 12, 2011.

Single ticket prices are $16-$32, with discounted ticket prices for kids and teens. Groups of 20+ enjoy significant discounts, with additional resources and classes available for teachers; please inquire for rates. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, order online at, or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.

Arden Theatre Company also offers Arden Drama School, a wide array of classes and day camps for pre-school through high school aged children. Classes focused on The Flea and the Professor include:
The Flea and the Professor Acting Class on Monday, May 16. Grades K-2 from 4-5:30pm; Monday, May 23Grades 3-5 from 4-6pm. Details for all classes can be found online at

Families are also invited to attend The Flea and the Professor Family Fun Day on Saturday, June 12 from 2-3pm. This exclusive backstage event takes adults and children behind the scenes where they can experience an all access tour of the Arden, explore the set, meet their favorite actors, and learn how the Arden creates special effects. The event is best enjoyed by those that have previously seen the production. Refreshments will be served. Tickets are $25 for a family of four and can be purchased by calling the box office at 215.922.1122

To further enhance the performance experience, kids ages seven and older are invited to join the Family Usher Network (FUN) with their adult chaperones. FUN gives kids a behind-the-scenes peek at how plays are created, instills the value of community involvement and teaches valuable social skills. FUN ushers receive an exclusive backstage tour, hand out programs, tear tickets, seat patrons and help straighten up the theatre after the show. For information call the box office at 215.922.1122.

The Arden is proud to announce the Target 2 for 1 Family Series, a ticket discount program generously sponsored by Target. This program offers two tickets for the price of one during selected performances of The Flea and the Professor. Please refer to the show calendars at for the designated performances. There is a limit of four discounted orders (8 tickets) per transaction, available while supplies last.

The Arden is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices and large-print programs at every performance. Reservations are required for accessible seating and may be made by calling the Arden's Box Office at 215.922.1122. ASL interpreted performances, signed by Hands UP Productions, will be held Tuesday, May 17 at 10:30am and Saturday, May 21 at 4pm.

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