PHILADELPHIA, PA: Kids, along with their families and friends, will love Schoolhouse Rock Live! JR. The iconic Emmy Award-winning Saturday morning cartoon series comes to life at Walnut Street Theatre for Kids beginning May 29th. Young audience members will see how much fun learning can be. Due to popular demand, the Walnut has announced the production has been extended through June 6th.
Meet Tom, a young school teacher, who is nervous about his first day of teaching. He tries to relax and calm his nerves, but his imagination takes over. Characters from Schoolhouse Rock fill his living room and show him how to use music and creativity to teach his students. This energetic musical is packed with classic songs including "Just A Bill," "Unpack Your Adjectives," and "Conjunction Junction!" Join the characters of Schoolhouse Rock as they help bring Tom’s lesson plans to life. Parents will take a trip down memory lane while introducing their kids to a pop culture favorite.
The original Schoolhouse Rock television series was the brainchild of David McCall. He noticed his son could remember all of the words to popular songs on the radio, but could not remember his multiplication tables. McCall believed if educational material was paired with exciting animation and catchy music, children would more easily learn and retain the information. This simple idea created a sensation after ABC adapted it for television. This Saturday morning cartoon generated 41 original songs and won four Emmy Awards. It was a favorite of kids across the country from 1973 through 1985 when the show went off the air. In 1992, over 2,000 signatures were collected by a student at the University of Connecticut in support of bringing the show back to Television. The cartoon went back on the air for a whole new generation to enjoy.
A renewed rise in its popularity led to a stage adaptation in 1993. Schoolhouse Rock Live! opened at Chicago's Cabaret Voltaire, playing for eight months to sold-out houses in a record-breaking run. The show’s success led to a sequel,Schoolhouse Rock Live Too! And the creation of Schoolhouse Rock Live! JR. for younger audiences to enjoy.
Schoolhouse Rock Live! JR. is led by Eric Thompson as Director and as Music and Vocal Director. Recently at the Walnut, Thompson was the Music and Vocal Director for Alice in Wonderland Jr. He is a professional vocal coach in Philadelphia and works as an accompanist, teaching artist and music director for Camp Walnut. Joining Thompson is Choreographer Samuel Antonio Reyes. A Barrymore Award nominee, Reyes celebrates his 10th season as a choreographer at Walnut Street Theatre and is a Professor of Dance at Muhlenberg College. Additionally, he is an instructor at Koresh School of Dance and the Tricia Sloan Dance Center.
Transforming an urban apartment into a world of imagination and learning is Set Designer Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall. Schmitt-Hall’s additional design credits include The Spitfire Grill at Delaware County Community College, Footloose at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and Assistant Designer for Down Past Passyunk at InterAct Theater Company.Walnut’s Costume Apprentices Kayla Speedy and Sara Lindsey get creative with costuming and bring Schoolhouse Rockfavorites, like Interplanet Janet, to life on stage. The Walnut welcomes back Sound Designer Ryan Peavey (A Christmas Carol, Pinkalicious) and Lighting Designer J. Dominic Chacon (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice).
The cast of Schoolhouse Rock Live! JR. are all members of The Theatre School at Walnut Street Theatre. Playing Tom, a nervous teacher on his first day, is Langston Darby (Stinky Cheese Man). Joining Darby is Nate Golden (Grease) as Joe, Brandon O’Rourke (Alexander…) as George and Lauren Grajewski (A Christmas Carol) as Dori. Alanna Smith, recently seen as Nancy in this season’s popular Fancy Nancy: The Musical and Sarah Biddle from the title role in last season’s Pinkalicious join the cast as Shulie and Dina, respectively.
Walnut Street Theatre for Kids encourages families to spend time together and discover a whole new level of imagination when they see their favorite stories and characters come to life onstage. Thousands of local students attend WST for Kids’ performances and experience live theatre for the first time as part of school trips. Schoolhouse Rock Live! JR. has a special student matinee performance on Friday, May 29th. The Walnut takes pride in bringing families together and beginning a creative conversation through education and the arts.
The media sponsor for Walnut Street Theatre for Kids is Courier Post. Tickets are only $14-$16 with group discounts available for groups of ten or more. Study guides are available for teachers and school groups on the Walnut’s website. For tickets and information, please call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets can also be purchased online at Ticketmaster or by visiting the Walnut’s website at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org.