Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

Admit it--Flies ARE Cute

First Stage Childrens Theatre presents Insect-Based Folk Rock Musical

By Russ Bickerstaff
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admit it, you kind of want to hug this fly.

In early March, Johnny Depp tries to make a reasonably anatomically accurate Chameleon look appealing in an upcoming animated film. One month prior to the release of that film, First Stage Children’s Theatre tackles a much more challenging task as it asks audiences to identify with an insect. This is a noble effort. The insects ridiculously outnumber us on the planet. Just because we’re bigger and, allegedly, smarter than they are—that doesn’t mean we’re any more important than them. If we’re going to evolve as a species, we’re going to have to appreciate the bugs. And yes, the way things work for us as a culture, that means we’re going to have to start thinking of them as cute. (It works for dolphins, who have effectively lobbied through sheer cuteness to raise awareness of their tendency to get caught in tuna nets. The tuna, on the other hand, have yet to launch just such a cuteness campaign.) An insect-based children’s musical could go a long way towards accomplishing a perception of cuteness amongst insects.

Meet Pico. Pico is a fly-played in the First Stage Children’s Theatre production by Zach Olson of New Berlin. Pico the fly suffers from all those challenges facing so many. He gets bullied by a horsefly. His girlfriend is a caterpillar. Her parents don’t approve of her dating a fly. Things are rough. Pico decides its time to leave the yard. He is joined by a couple of cockroaches played by Equity Actor Rna Roman and Milwaukee theatre fixture Chase Stoeger. Thus begins an adventure brought to the stage in the folk rock musical U: Bug: Me. “ It is genuinely a show that the entire family can, and should, share.” Says First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank who also direct the show, “The characters may be bugs, but their struggles are very human.”

The musical is the product of Jeremiah Clay Neal—a performing artist originally from Las Vegas. The musical debuted in the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City last spring. Back in 2008, First Stage presented a working version of it for First Stage’s New Play Workshop in 2008. “U: Bug: Me received tremendous praise to our sold-out audience when we presented it during our New Play Workshop in 2008,” says Frank. “We anticipate the same success with audiences when it makes its premiere next month,”

First Stage’s production of U: Bug: Meruns February 18th – March 13th at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theatre. For reservations, call 414-273-7206.

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