Camp Imagination remounts “Happily Ever After …”

The Webb Center’s summer arts camp, Camp Imagination, is proud to announce that it will remount a production of Happily Ever After … A Cinderella Tale.  Not familiar with this musical? The Webb Center actually had it commissioned, especially for Camp Imagination, in 2008.

The Webb Center received a generous grant from the Wellik Foundation in 2007, to commission a new play that would be written to embrace the number of campers and their age ranges. Executive Director Cathy Weiss contacted Ruth Fost who gladly accepted the task. At the time, Ruth Fost was Executive/Artistic Director of New Jersey’s premier children’s theatre company – The Pushcart Players. Over 35 years, Fost had written more than 30 shows for the company and led them on tour to nearly every state and many countries abroad.

After agreeing to write the show, Fost’s next step was to determine the needs that the play had to fulfill. Roles for 10-15 lead characters. Check. Scenes for an ensemble cast of 100 children. Check.  Check. Songs appropriate for actors with varying singing abilities. A familiar story that would engage first through twelfth grade campers. Check. Fost settled on a retelling of Cinderella’s tale due to its rich history and thematic elements for the basis of the new musical.

Larry Hochman was recruited to write the music and orchestrations for the show. Hochman has won four Emmy Awards for his original music on the TV series The Wonder Pets and a prestigious Tony Award for his work on The Book of Mormon.

“My thoughts about this particular play, were that I wanted to evoke the sound of a fairy tale, but in a grand way, a style similar to Tchaikovsky,” Hochman stated about his inspiration for the music. “I wanted the main theme to evoke royalty, pomp and circumstance, and a melody that would suggest romance.”

“After I wrote the main theme, I dealt with the other songs, some of which are sung by characters in a specific part of the story.  I would think about those characters in the particular moment – how they feel, what they’re thinking.  So the music is personal to that character – like Cinderella’s ‘Work Song.’”

“Lastly, there are other songs that are ‘show numbers’ that don’t necessarily move the plot forward, but add energy, rhythm and fun to the show, more for entertainment, for example, the Stepmother and Stepsisters’ song, ‘When We Move Into The Palace.’”

After many revisions, the final script was completed and world premiered at Camp Imagination in 2008.

Having never commissioned a play, the Webb Center staff did not realize all of the additional work it would take for the production to be a success. Scene change music and sound effects were just a few of the extra tasks the technical crew had to tackle the first time around. But this time, they will be ready with more spunk and pizzazz, making this production even more spectacular.

The Webb Center and The Pushcart Players relationship began when the children’s theatre company was brought to the Webb Center to perform Peter and the Wolf for students, as a part of the Webb Center’s Arts for Kids programming. It was through this partnership with Pushcart that the relationship with Harry Patrick Christian began. Christian is the Director of Education for Pushcart, and became the Musical Director for Camp Imagination in 2007.

There will be a public performance of Happily Ever After … A Cinderella Tale, featuring all 120 campers either onstage or behind the scenes, at the end of each session of Camp: June 16 (Session 1) and June 30 (Session 2). For information on volunteering for Camp Imagination, registration, or auditions contact the Webb Center Box Office at (928)684-6624.

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