As The Rose Theater sets the stage for its 2017-18 season, we build on a 70-year legacy of inspiring a love of theater in young people and its recognition as one of the 20 best children’s theaters in America by American Theatre magazine.
“We believe theater is essential to helping children develop the skills they need to lead a successful, fulfilled life,” says Rose Artistic Director Matthew Gutschick. “This has been a core value from our early beginnings in 1948, and it is just as true today.”
Gutschick explains that children’s theater is much more than just an entertaining way to spend an afternoon or evening. “Studies show time after time that involvement in arts has a direct correlation to academic success. Young people who attend live theater performances also show greater empathy; they are better at understanding what other people think and feel. What a wonderful gift to give to your children, particularly in this day and age,” he said.
Understanding others and overcoming obstacles are prevalent themes in The Rose’s 2017-18 season. The nine mainstage shows in the 2017-18 season introduce topics like bullying, perseverance, community, exploration, environmentalism and multiculturalism. Titles include stage adaptations of popular movies, innovative twists on well-known stories and world premiere scripts making their debut on The Rose stage.
The Rose’s holiday premium event features a hilarious take on the traditional Christmas story. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on the book by Barbara Robinson, follows the antics of the Herdman children who may just be the worst kids in the history of the world. Chaos ensues when they crash Sunday school and demand parts in the Christmas pageant.
“This is definitely a show that will be a highlight of your holiday schedule,” says Gutschick. “At the same time, it teaches important lessons about accepting people who are different from you and giving other people a chance to show you their best qualities. We can all learn something about challenging the assumptions we have about other people, and this is a story that reminds us of just that.”
The season will conclude with the Disney hit Broadway musical, Newsies, June 1-17, 2018. Based on the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899, this Disney musical tells the story of Jack Kelly, a rebellious newsboy who dreams of a different life. When publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer flexes his muscle in a way that threatens the newsboys’ livelihood, Jack and his friends must rise to the challenge and make their voices heard.
“Newsies is a wonderful underdog story. What a great message to share with young people — that they can make a difference in the world and fight the injustices they see in their communities,” says Gutschick.
One of the most popular additions to The Rose season has been its series of theatrical pieces tailored for preschool children. The Rose continues this work, now under the moniker FIRST STAGE. These productions — described as “a small stage for big imaginations” — offer young theatergoers a unique opportunity to experience theater. FIRST STAGE productions are ideal for preschoolers, children with sensory needs, or others who desire a gentler, more interactive and personal performance. FIRST STAGE productions are presented on The Rose’s Hitchcock Stage, a black-box style theater well-suited to immersing young audiences in the art of theater. Children will be able to choose traditional seating or sit on the floor near the performance areas, and all audience members can expect to interact directly with the performers and even help shape the course of the show. The shows will feature gentle tones and visuals, with no loud sounds of full blackouts.
This year’s FIRST STAGE series includes Point A to Point B and Wynken, Blynken & Nod. Point A to Point B was originally produced by Arts on the Horizon and was inspired by the America on the Move exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The show features a pair of whimsical opposites discovering the mysteries of cause and effect. Point A to Point B will be presented October 21 – November 12, 2017. The world premiere of Wynken, Blynken & Nod will take place February 10, 2018 and will run through March 4. This show is an adaptation of the poem by Eugene Field written by Rose teaching artist Ashley Laverty. During the show, children will be seated in their own wooden shoes as they go on a magical theatrical adventure.
The Rose’s seven regular season mainstage shows are free with Rose membership or $20 per ticket for non-members. Tickets for the FIRST STAGE series shows held on The Rose’s Hitchcock Stage are $12. Tickets to The Rose’s holiday production of the two premium shows, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Disney’s Newsies are $27 main floor, $22 balcony. Rose members receive a $7 discount off the price of premium event tickets and $2 off the price of the FIRST STAGE series. The lobby opens 45 minutes prior to each performance. Seating begins 30 minutes before curtain.
The theater’s mainstage season will consist of nine main stage shows, including:
- Babe the Sheep Pig
- Madagascar: A Musical Adventure
- Van Gogh & Me
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
- The Meaning of Maggie
- Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure
- Curious George & the Golden Meatball
- Disney’s Newsies
Seven shows are included with Rose membership; non-members may purchase tickets for regular season shows for $20 per ticket. The Rose’s two premium event shows, The
Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Disney’s Newsies are $27 main floor, $22 balcony. Rose members receive a $7 discount off the price of premium event tickets and $2 off the price of the FIRST STAGE Series.
In addition to the regular season shows, two shows produced specifically for preschoolers and children with special needs will be presented in The Rose’s smaller Hitchcock Auditorium as a part of their newly renamed FIRST STAGE series. Two whimsical opposites discover a world of imagination in Point A to Point B. An original adaptation of Eugene Field’s poem, Wynken, Blynken & Nod, adapted by Rose artist educator Ashley Laverty will entertain the youngest audience members in February.
“Our entire organization is focused on helping young people ask meaningful questions about the world, and we encourage that curiosity to start at a very early age,” says Gutschick. “We want all our audiences, no matter their age, to ask questions, to love being curious, and to experience the transformative power of live theater.”
The Rose’s 2017-18 season is sponsored by Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and Nebraska Furniture Mart. Show sponsors include Mutual of Omaha, First National Bank, Hy-Vee, Kiewit Companies, Wells Fargo, Runza Restaurants, Omaha Steaks, Security National Bank, Baird Holm, the Vetter Foundation, the Nebraska Arts Council, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.