Peggy Sue Dunigan

Find enchantment in First Stage’s “The Magic Bicycle”

By - Jan 10th, 2011 04:00 am
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We may be a week into the new year, but First Stage Children’s Theatre is traveling back in time with its upcoming production of The Magic Bicycle, where the lives of two teenagers collide in what Director Robert Quinlan calls “a beautiful, sweet and funny play that uncovers the meaning to family.”

The production opens on a young girl named Lilah, who has just escaped the awful orphanage she’s been living in since her mother died. The year is 1888. Suddenly, a boy named Willy — from the year 2010, no less — appears on a strange bicycle . Together they disappear on a fantastical quest through time and space, learning the secrets of the mysterious bicycle and more importantly, finding a sense of ‘home’ along the way.

A video still from the behind-the-scenes look at First Stage’s “The Magic Bicycle”.

Artistic Director Jeff Frank collaborated with and commissioned playwright John Olive for the original work as part of First Stage’s New Play Workshop program.

This rich psychological context will be staged by designer David Minkoff , who sets the pair of 14-year-olds within the workings of a great clock. Suitcases and boxes contain props necessary for moving through time and surround the two leads. The characters of Willy and Lilah are acted by real teenagers, and both Quinlan and Frank believe this factor gives the play authenticity.

The  play was workshopped through The Young Company, First Stage’s advanced, pre-professional training program for high school students. Quinian believes that the Young Company program enriches any ongoing performance work with teens by allowing young actors to see the process of bringing a world premiere production to the stage.

“These events inspire their peers to do other things that appear out of reach,” Quinlan adds.

The 13-cast production also boasts some familiar names, including Laura Cocker, Todd Denning, and Molly Rhode. While the actors define the action in the play, the stage technicians develop the lights and sounds to signify the historical periods experienced in the script, a symbol of the world’s many transformations between the late 19th century and present day.

Playwright John Olive kept this in mind when writing the play about a son searching for his father, saying that he wanted a play that someone similar to his own 14-year old son relate to. He says  The Magic Bicycle appeared to be the perfect vehicle that teenagers could connect with.

The audience will be delighted to ride along on Willy and Lilah’s exciting trip through history and their own imaginations. While culture and technology may vary over these 100 years, the values of family and friendship remain constant.

First Stage Children’s Theater premieres The Magic Bicycle, playing at the Todd Wehr Theatre, January 14 through February 5, 2011. For tickets call 414. 273. 7206 or visit First Stage online.

Categories: A/C Feature 3, Theater

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