Monday, September 13, 2010

The Story of Babar, the little elephant (1980)

"The Story of Babar, the little elephant" 1980.
Christopher Ryan as Babar, George Sutton as Celeste

In the autumn of 1980, playing in repertory with "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," The Children's Theatre Company and School presented a world premiere of the classic children's picture book by Jean de Brunhoff, "The Story of Babar, the little elephant." Adapted for the stage by resident playwright Thomas W. Olson (with French language translation assistance from George Muschamp), the play was produced, directed, and choreographed by John Clark Donahue with original music composed and orchestrated by resident artist Steven M. Rydberg, orchestra conducted by Thomas Florey, Scenic design by Robert Braun, Costume design by Barry Robison, Lighting design by Karlis Ozols and Sound design by John Lupori. John M. Coughlin stage managed the event. It was offered in approximately 40 performances in a "split run" in the fall and returned again in January, performing in repertory with "The Three Musketeers."

An elephantine undertaking! Two actors performed the role of Babar (Sean McNellis as the "green suit" elephant and Christopher Ryan in the tuxedo); wearing the heavy costumes throughout the duration of the play (about 65 minutes in length) was simply far too strenuous for one actor. Indeed, all the actors who performed in the large animal suits were required to adopt a weight training regimen (Nautilus) to prepare them for the ordeal.  Imagine carrying a 90 pound, bulky costume about and being virtually blind as well! Kudos to everyone who performed in these challenging costumes with such grace (as well as the talented crew who designed and constructed the pieces with such functionality as well as fidelity to de Brunhoff's illustrations)!

L to R: John Peitzman (Arthur), Don Goff, Gary Costello, Tanya Brody, Sean McNellis (Babar),
Julee Cruise, George Sutton (Celeste), James McNee

Costume Rendering: Accordionist by Barry Robison.

All personnel for this remarkable production deserve credit and acknowledgment:


Upright Babar: Sean McNellis and Christopher Ryan
French Professor: George Muschamp
Old Lady: Wendy Lehr
Upright Celeste: George Sutton
Upright Arthur: John Peitzman

In the Jungle...
Cornelius: Gary Costello and James McNee
Babar/Elephant King: Ann Fink and Victor Walter
Babar's Mother: Doug Bright and Anthony A. Woitalla
Celeste: Beth Bostic and Ann Cherne
Arthur: Jon Sweeney
Little Babar: Arthur Phillips
Marabou Bird: Rana Haugen
Rhinoceros: Carl Beck
Hippopotamus: R. Scott Taylor
Lion: Lily Vakili
Chimpanzee: Arthur Phillips

In Paris...
Bon Marche Salesman: Tom Dunn
Bon Marche Manager: Oliver S. Osterberg
Manager's Wife: Lesley Moore
Bon Marche Clerks: Gary Costello, James McNee, George Sutton
Elevator Boy: Matthew Brassil
Elevator Assistants: John Peitzman, Paul Reighard
Photographer: Stephen Boe
Gendarme: Carl Beck
Accordionist: R. Scott Taylor
Pastry Lady: Julee Cruise
Flower Seller: Sarah Napier
Broom Girl: Lily Vakili
School Girl/Maid: Charity Jones
Nun/Maid: Felicity Jones
Balloon Vendor: George Sutton
Waiters: Gary Costello, James McNee
Child: Rana Haugen
Sailor Boy: Don Goff
Little Girl: Tanya Brody

In the Country...
Peasants: Beth Bostic, Doug Bright, Ann Cherne, Ann Fink, George Sutton, Victor Walter.

Stage Manager: John M. Coughlin
Assistant Stage Manager: Laura Marquardt
Assistant to the Director: David Samuelson
Stage Technician: Wanda Copeland
Production Assistant: Joan Heule
Lighting Assistants: Lawrence Fried, Rob Edmones
Sound Assistants: Paul Godwin, Peter Sullivan
Running Crew: Kim Anoka, Lynn Ellis, Susan Ellis, Melissa Finnson, Amy Harsha, Frederick Herndon, Jr.,Emily Lilja, Cheryl McDonald, John Metz, Mary Miller, Mark Millhone, David Roth, Jon Sweeney, Sabra Thurber, Lorraine Weller, Tom Yzagurre
Animal Construction:
Danny Seagren, Animal Design Consultant
Mark Hegnauer, Technical Development
Rock, Animal Designer/Engineer
Lori LeCount, Assistant Engineer
Ellen Pedroza, Soft Animals
Tim Moore, Kathy Ripke, Stitchers

It is safe to say that nowhere but at The Children's Theatre Company and School could one find such a degree of dedication of resources and talent toward bringing a "simple" children's picture book to such extraordinary life! The author's son, Laurent de Brunhoff, attended the opening, was pleased, and granted the Theatre carte blanche to create another play (which occurred three years later with the original script, based on the de Brunhoff characters, "The Adventures of Babar").

"The Story of Babar, the little elephant" joined CTC's continuing repertoire and was produced again in 1989 and 1996.

Music Selections:

Track 1:  Lullaby...

Track 2: Little Babar Plays

Track 3: A Wicked Hunter

Track 4: Babar Cries and Runs

Track 5: A Big City

Track 6: Welcome to Paris!

Track 7: The Bon Marche

Track 8: To the Photographer's Studio

Track 9: Procession of Purchases

Track 10: Dinner with La Vieille Dame

Track 11: Motorcar

Track 12: Peasant Picnic

Track 13: Night Ride Back Home to Paris

Track 14: Classroom Lessons

Track 15: After Dinner Conversation

Track 16: Dance Lessons

Track 17: Grand Waltz

Track 18: Promenade

Track 19: Meanwhile, Back in the Jungle...

Track 20: Sidewalk Cafe

Track 21: Elephant Love

Track 22: Follow Your Heart

Track 23: Au Revoir, La Vieille Dame

Track 24: Departure

Track 25: Wedding Preparations

Track 26: Wedding Procession

Track 27: Celebration

Track 28: The King and Queen Alone

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 1. "In the great forest, a little elephant is born..."

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 2: Bienvenue! Welcome to Paris!

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 3.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 4.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 5.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 6.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 7.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 8.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 9.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 10.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 11.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 12.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 13.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 14.

Video clip: "The Story of Babar" 1980. Clip 15. Au revoir!

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