Weekender

Curious George helps State College Community Theatre dive into children’s shows

From left: Rob Arnold, Eric Lindquist and Ethan Palmer star in State College Community Theatre’s production of “Curious George: The Golden Meatball.”
From left: Rob Arnold, Eric Lindquist and Ethan Palmer star in State College Community Theatre’s production of “Curious George: The Golden Meatball.” Photo provided

For its new foray into children’s productions, State College Community Theatre will bring the musical “Curious George: The Golden Meatball” to Calvary Harvest Fields in Boalsburg.

“Curious George: The Golden Meatball” is based on the books by Margret and H.A. Rey. The popular children’s literary character celebrates his 75th anniversary this year.

The musical features Rob Arnold as Man in the Yellow Hat, Eric Lindquist as Chef Pisghetti and Ethan Palmer as Curious George.

This SCCT production, which is sponosred by WPSU Penn State, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book and the Schlow Centre Region Library, is directed by Shannon Agnew and co-produced by Ellysa Cahoy and Becky Friedenberg.

“SCCT was hoping to bring family theater for a young audience to their season, and this show gives families a wonderful opportunity to come together to watch a musical that is fun for the entire family,” Agnew said.

In the musical, George works alongside his friend, Chef Pisghetti, to help him get ready for the all-you-can-eat Meatball Day on N Avenue. On the same day, a strange man comes to town, Phinneas T. Lightspeed, bringing his “Meatball-o-matic 9000” machine that prepares meatballs in the blink of an eye. Pisghetti feels that no one would want to eat his homemade meatballs, and so he hangs up his chef hat forever.

“George gets an idea to restore Chef’s joy for cooking, and he ships himself to Rome to enter the famous ‘Golden Meatball Contest’ with Chef’s recipe,” Agnew said. “George cooks up a storm, singing and dancing the entire time, and ultimately proves that the power of friendship can bring anyone joy in their lives.”

As a parent of two, Cahoy said she’s thrilled to be producing and performing in a show for young children.

“Our region is rich in so many different arts offerings, but we don’t often have theatrical performances for kids under the age of six,” she said. “ ‘Curious George’ is a perfect show for even the youngest child. It is a short show filled with song, dance and lots of Curious George.”

When researching the show, Agnew returned to the stories and PBS cartoon for inspiration. She came to the conclusion that George experiences no fear.

“He is the perfect lens through which children may observe their world in a more inquisitive and authentic way,” she said. “In our world today, there is a connotation of fear surrounding the unknown, but not for George. He embraces a new culture when he arrives in Italy with open arms.”

Along the way, George learns new skills without fear of failure, and when he does fail, the grown-ups around him encourage the effort, not the final product.

“George teaches us open mindedness and joyful inquisitiveness, which are values I think we all hope to instill a bit of in a younger generation,” Agnew said. “I wanted to capture the joy that George has, the joy he finds in his friends and the joy in the work he does — because that to me is the heart of the whole story.”

Cahoy thinks that children’s theater is rewarding for the audience and the actors.

“As an actor, you always hope for the audience’s enthusiastic support throughout the show. When you are performing for children, that enthusiasm and passion is there the moment the show begins,” she said. “It’s so exciting to share in that magic with the kids, and build upon their energy to help them connect even further with the songs and story onstage.”

As director, Agnew knows that families and little ones will come together and respond positively to this story of friendship and love.

“I am hoping everyone leaves feeling ready to explore new things, and with a deeper appreciation of the friends and love we all carry in our lives,” she said. “If ‘Curious George: The Golden Meatball’ can remind us all to love each other a little more in spite of any differences, we will have done our job.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: State College Community Theatre’s “Curious George: The Golden Meatball”
  • When: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nov. 5 and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nov. 19
  • Where: Calvary Harvest Fields, 150 Harvest Fields Drive, Boalsburg
  • Info: scctonline.org
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