Children’s Books and Play Adaptations

The Grand Rapids Civic Theater is one of my favorite places in town. There’s not one bad seat in the entire house. I know, I’ve sat in the very last row of the very last balcony. This summer they produced two shows, Sideway Stories from Wayside School and Into the Woods

As I mentioned in Book Connections, my niece read Sideway Stories from Wayside School by Lewis Sachar this year. The combination of local theater and books tickles me pink. I pounced on the chance to take my sister and my niece out for a girls night on the town.

Glamorously, we put on the fancy frocks of summer. I drove and impressed everyone with my city skills of parallel parking (in a space large enough for two cars). The theater filled with kids and their parents. It delights me seeing people come out for these events even on a weeknight.

The adaptation was pretty impressive. It combines stories from all three of the Wayside collections. Casting is small, only five students are represented on stage. Each part expresses several of the classroom’s narratives. They did a fantastic job. The set was colorful and exciting, they used fun props such as giant moving lips to indicate announcements, and they embraced physical comedy making it fun and accessible for the kids.

My niece’s favorite part was Dr. Pickle (Pickell). She has only read the first book of the trilogy, so it’s a story she can look forward to reading in the future. On stage, he did the Thriller Dance with the kids. The audience roared and danced in their seats.

I loved Miss Zarves. As her chapter goes in Sideway Stories from Wayside School:

19: Miss Zarves

There is no Miss Zarves. There is no nineteenth story. Sorry.

For being a non-existent person, she has a pretty critical role in the play. My sister seemed to love all of it. The evening ended perfectly with ice cream. Unfortunately, the parlor employee was all out of Maurecia flavor ice cream. Too bad Wayside’s thirtieth story teacher wasn’t there to help make ice cream flavored after her students. Still, blue moon is a close second.

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