Re-Staging a Stand Against Bullying
Imagine U musical “The Hundred Dresses” returnsJuly 1, 2014 | by Judy Moore
- Production emphasizes kindness and compassion in and out of the classroom
- Musical takes an honest look at the cruelty children can inflict on classmates
- Director Rives Collins to offer evening of songs and stories on July 22 and July 26
EVANSTON, Ill. --- A musical based on a children’s classic that won a Newbery Honor Book award -- and that speaks to the hearts of anyone who has ever needed a friend -- is back by popular demand. The family production is part of the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts 2014 SummerStage season. (The center was formerly known as the Theatre and Interpretation Center at Northwestern University or TIC, for short.)
Geared 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. Thursday, July 10; 7 p.m. Friday, July 11; 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday, July 12; 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, July 13; 7 p.m. Friday, July 18; 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday, July 19; 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, July 20; 7 p.m. Friday, July 25; 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday, July 26; and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, July 27. Performances will take place at the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. All tickets are $10.
• Additionally, Imagine U will offer “Kids Brave & True: An Evening of Stories and Songs Celebrating the Hero in All of Us” to complement the themes addressed in the production of “The Hundred Dresses.” Featuring master storyteller and Northwestern faculty member Rives Collins, this evening of storytelling will showcase the breadth of human compassion and courage across generations for children old and young alike. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 22 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at the Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. All tickets at $5.
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, was originally published in 1944 and remains in print today. In the Imagine U 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. This is a story of a girl in the middle, one who like most of us, doesn't know what to do or say, planting seeds of hope, as this one child promises, ‘I will never do nothing again.”
Collins is looking forward to bringing the family production back to the Wallis Theater with an enthusiastic new cast so that a new audience can experience the magic of a show that was so popular last fall. “My wish is that audiences leave the theatre filled with hope for the promise of our futures,” Collins added.
Ralph Covert, the show’s composer, is known for “Ralph's World,” a Grammy-nominated kids' rock phenomenon he created that includes nine compact discs 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 children in need.
Tickets are can be purchased by phone or online by calling the Wirtz Center Box Office at (847) 491-7282.
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. For the most current information on the construction project and drop-off locations for patrons requiring special access to our theaters, visit TIC.