‘dr. Seuss at the Opera’ comes to Skokie
Two favorite children’s stories will introduce youngsters to the art form of opera when Skokie Theatricals NFP presents “Dr. Seuss at the Opera,” October 15 at the Skokie Theatre.
Northbrook resident Aaron Kaplan will lead 10 members of his famous JAM Orchestra in hour-long performances of the chamber version of the opera at 10 a.m. and noon. The program is designed to be a first concert or opera experience for children aged 3 to 9 with their families. This is the first performance of the “Classics for Kids” series planned by JAM Orchestra. Jenilee Houghton is the director.
“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of live shows,” Kaplan said. He noted that because there hadn’t been live shows for young people in several years, “I wanted to create something that would be interesting for them and not just a classic kids classic. I wanted it to be something totally different. Being exposed to the arts at a young age not only helps with brain development, but always exposes them to the bigger world.
Since Kaplan has been a longtime fan of Dr. Seuss stories, opening his “Classics for Kids” series with “Dr. Seuss at the Opera” was an easy decision. “I grew up reading the books with my parents and watching the animated TV specials and I realized ‘Seussical the Musical,'” Kaplan said.
The show contains lyrical versions of two popular Dr. Seuss stories, “Gertrude McFuzz” and “Green Eggs and Ham”.
The show will begin with a brief discussion of what an opera is and what instruments the audience will hear. The musicians will each give a brief demonstration of the sound of the instruments they will play during the concert.
Soprano soloist Desirée Hassler will play the role of narrator, explaining what is happening. Soprano soloist Colleen Bruton will be Gertrude in “Gertrude McFuzz” and Sam I Am in “Green Eggs and Ham”.
“They will tell the story through the booklet,” Kaplan explained.
Hassler, an Oak Park resident, has known Kaplan since they both attended the University of Illinois. “We share the same love of music which has a lot of creativity and imagination,” she said. “So when he approached me about doing this project, what really appealed to me was the idea that he has so much imagination and creativity and humor. It’s very playful. »
Hassler, who is the mother of four children ages 10 to 18, has fond memories of trying to expose her children to music “and teaching them what it’s like to go to a concert” when they were younger. , she said.
Hassler has a busy professional music career. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and holds a full-time position as a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Chorus. In addition, she teaches in the singing department of the Moody Bible Institute.
“What’s beautiful about this particular concert is that it’s designed for kids, it’s very imaginative, and it’s an hour or less,” Hassler said of “Dr. Seuss at the Opera.” So it will be easy to sit in and very engaging for kids of all ages.”
Hassler admitted that, like Kaplan, she is also a fan of Dr. Seuss.
“It’s really fun to learn this music because the words for ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Gertrude McFuzz’, I’ve said many times, reading those books to my kids,” Hassler said. “Learning Music is so wonderful because it brings out a lot of the great fun emotions that are in those two books.”
‘dr. Seuss at the Opera’
When: October 15
Where: Skokie Theater, 7924 Lincoln Ave, Skokie
Tickets: $10; $5 from 3 to 17 years old
Information: 847-677-7761; skokietheatre.org/dr-seuss.html
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance journalist for Pioneer Press.