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Staging a Stand Against Bullying

Imagine U musical “The Hundred Dresses” to be performed Nov. 1 to 10

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October 18, 2013 | by Judy Moore
In TIC’s fall production, classmate Maddie Martin joins the rest of the kids at the elementary school in teasing the new girl at school, Wanda Petronski. Photo credit: Jim Davis.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A musical based on a children’s classic that won a Newbery Honor Book award and speaks to the hearts of anyone who has ever needed a friend will kick off the Theatre and Interpretation Center at Northwestern University’s 2013-14 Imagine U Family Series. 

Geared especially for children ages 5 to 10, the production emphasizes the importance of compassion, understanding and kindness in and out of the classroom.

“The Hundred Dresses” -- by Ralph Covert and G. Riley Mills -- will be staged at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1; 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2; 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3; 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8;

2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9; and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. Performances will take place at the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus.

Directed by Northwestern theatre faculty member Rives Collins, the theatre department’s specialist in theatre and drama for youth, “The Hundred Dresses” by Eleanor Estes, also happens to be a favorite book from Collins’ childhood. Originally published in 1944, the book remains in print today.

In TIC’s fall production, the lead character Wanda Petronski -- the new girl at school -- claims to have 100 beautiful dresses at home – despite wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Classmate Maddie Martin joins the rest of the kids at the elementary school in teasing Wanda for speaking strangely, having a funny last name and living in the wrong part of town. When the teasing gets out of hand, Maddie is faced with a tough decision.

“The Hundred Dresses” asks: would you have the courage to stand up for someone, even if it means standing alone? 

“I was drawn to the way the musical shines light into a shadowy place by looking honestly at the kind of garden-variety cruelty children can inflict on other children,” said Collins. “Seen through the gauzy veil of history, we are invited to see ourselves on the playgrounds of a simpler time.”  

However, this is not the story of teasers versus the teased, said Collins.

“The Hundred Dresses’ tells the story of a girl in the middle, one who like most of us, doesn't know what to do or say. The story plants seeds of hope as this one child promises, ‘I will never do nothing again.’ My wish is that audiences leave the theatre filled with hope for the promise of our futures.”

The production features an eight-member Northwestern undergraduate student stage cast and songs by the show’s co-writer, award-winning composer Ralph Covert, reflecting the joys and sorrows of childhood.

Covert is known for “Ralph's World,” a Grammy-nominated kids' rock phenomenon he created that includes nine CDs on Disney Sound. Show co-writer G. Riley Mills is co-founder of The Bookwallah Organization, a not-for-profit company that collects and distributes storybooks to needy children (www.bookwallah.org).

Single tickets are $5 to $10; $5 tickets are available exclusively to Northwestern students with valid IDs on advance ticket purchases only. New this year, the Imagine U Family Pass is available for only $30. Families will receive four passes to use in whatever combination they like for the 2013-14 Imagine U Series that includes, in addition to “The Hundred Dresses,” “Charlotte’s Web” running May 2 to 11, in the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater.  Discounts are also available for groups of eight or more. To purchase tickets call the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or online.

CONSTRUCTION ALERT

A three-year construction project underway on the southeast end of the Northwestern University campus has closed Arts Circle Drive to traffic. Free parking for evening and weekend events remains available, but the project impacts handicapped parking and patrons requiring special access to Evanston campus theaters, as the parking structure is not accessible to patrons unable to climb stairs. The most current information on the construction project and drop-off locations for patrons requiring special access to our theaters is online

Topics: Neighborhood, Campus Life