Friday, April 9, 2010

Children's Environmental musical at DuPont Theatre

Ah, but from the mouths of babes, the knowledge one can acquire. Jamie Kleman, a Landenberg, Pa., resident and author of several books for children, asked her then 5-year-old son, Will, what he thought it meant by “going green,” environmentally speaking.

Will, as with many children, associated the phrase with witches, toothsome crocodiles, hissing snakes and your (green) garden variety fearsome monsters.

The seed of a play, thought Kleman...and better yet...a children's musical, “It's Not Mean To Be Green.” The adaptation for the stage was aided by Richard Gaw, an award-winning local playwright and past special sections editor at Community News.

The music was written by Chris Cotter of Pocopson, Pa., Bill Kleman of Landenberg, Pa., and Colin McGetrick, also of West Chester.

“It’s important for parents and teachers to realize that children may not understand the meaning behind what we think are common expressions,” says Kleman, the mother of two. “It’s equally important to teach children at a young age how to care for the environment so they can become responsible stewards in the future—and to do that in a fun, entertaining way.”

The production is rooted in this region, starring child and adult performers and will be staged at The DuPont Theatre April 18-20. Earth Day is April 22. This important national date is a catalyst for discussion on why it's NOT mean to be green, in fact just the opposite.

Aisle Say had an opportunity to see a rehearsal this past week.

The plot revolves around the McDurth family, all save one of whom are active environmentalists. The holdout, son Michael, is the theatrical doppelganger of Will Klerman's 'green' fears. (Christopher Cooke of Wilmington, a fifth grader at Wilmington Montessori School, plays Michael.)

In fact, when Michael's sister Issie (sixth-grader Abby Cocco) announces at the dinner table that she is 'going green,” Michael has bedtime dreams of vampires with apple green complexions and fire-breathing green dragons. Original over-sized puppets were made by a puppet maker in New York especially for this production.

Michael's fears are assuaged through both dance and song by his mother (Donnie Hammond) and father (Tom Wang). Wang is also the director of the production and is a professional actor that has appeared nationally.

Stephen Blahut as The Narrator with a penchant for iambic pentameter rounds out the cast.

The musical’s contributions to the community are not limited to the stage.

The original music from the show is available on CD. Partial proceeds from the song “Pass it On,” available as a download, will go to Project Night-Night (, which provides books, bags and blankets to homeless children.

Thanks to funding from Bank of America, 250 tickets to the show are designated for Title I students.

The 15-foot-by-30-foot backdrop was created by Art Therapy Express (, which serves children with intellectual, physical and emotional disabilities.
Girl Scouts & Boy Scouts get $1 off the $10 ticket price on April 18 at 3 pm., and they earn a patch just for attending the show.

Performances in Delaware elementary schools and in Pennsylvania and Maryland will follow.

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