PrimaryStages Presents: Berks County Children’s Theater Festival

The Yocum Institute for Arts Education has served Berks County for nearly a century, pivoting programming to meet the needs of our community. The impact of Covid-19 has met another pivot. The Yocum Institute has taken on additional expenses to mitigate risk, keep teaching artists and performers employed while providing unique artistic opportunities for small groups as well as performances (live and streaming). The ability of live theater to foster connectivity between performers, audiences and the community cannot be underestimated. The Theater Festival is the celebration of the return to the theater! Join us this weekend as we bring our community a celebration of stories of friendship, laughter, dance and music with 3 days filled with inspiring live performances and events!!

The Berks County Children’s Theater Festival is supported by the Wyomissing Foundation, Berks County Community Foundation, Fulton Bank, Stabler Foundation, Arethusa Designs, Reading Musical Foundation (RMF), Yocum Family Charitable Trust, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

All events will take place at the Yocum Institute for Arts Education at 3000 Penn Avenue, West Lawn, PA. For ticket prices and show details, visit YocumInstitute.org or stop by our reception.

Details on each individual event:

Elephant and Piggie’s, we’re in a play!

February 11, 2022 at 11:00 am
February 11, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. – PJ evening
February 12, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. – with Post show Piggie Dance Party
February 13, 2021 1:00 p.m. – *SENSORY PERFORMANCE

Get ready for a musical experience, drawn from the pages of Mo Willems’ best-selling and award-winning children’s books, that will leave audiences doing the “Flippy Floppy Floory” dance all night long! In “We Are in a Play!” from Elephant & Piggie, Gerald and Piggie take to the stage in an action-packed adventure that’s perfect for young audiences.

When bestus friends Elephant and Piggie come together, anything is possible. They might be invited to a costume party, learn a crazy new dance, or decide to spend the day playing ping pong in silly hats. Well, they do all that and more in this lively and irresistibly charming musical starring Elephant Gerald and Piggie, who are joined by their delightfully bonkers backing vocalists, the Squirrels, as they discover the thrill of being in a play – all the time encouraging the audience to participate in interactive entertainment. Bring your best friend and share the laughs and how good it is to put friends first.

Using catchy jazz and Broadway-inspired melodies to bring the story to life on stage, songwriter Mo Willems takes her simple – yet endearing and whimsical – look at friendship in a musical message that resonates with all ages of family. It’s the same message about the endurance of friendship that propelled the Elephant and Piggie books to become one of the best-selling and best-loved young reader series of the past decade. The 25-book series, which debuted in 2007, has twice been awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal and two titles are in TIME magazine’s Top 10 Children’s Books of the Year.

Author of many popular children’s books such as Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Cat the Cat, Mo Willems has received several of the highest literary honors, including the Caldecott Medal, the Carnegie Medal, and Irma Black Award Honor. He served for nine years as a host for Sesame Street before creating several animated series for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. “We are in a play!” from Elephant & Piggie marks Willems’ second stage adaptation with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma, who also worked on Willems’ musical adaptation of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical.

To throw:
The cast of “We are in a Play!” from Elephant & Piggie! features Eli LaCroix as Elephant Gerald and Mind Pornsakulpaisal as Piggie, with Jaida Garber, Joanna Ferbrache, Elizabeth Robinson as the Squirelles. Special guests like “Dog” and “Ice Cream Penguin”

*What is “friendly sensory?” It’s a relaxed performance atmosphere with quiet areas to leave the theater, house lights on during the show, reduced volume of the overall performance, voice “warnings” by cast before confetti cannons and flashing lights .

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Improvisation evening: guaranteed laughter:
February 11, 2022 at 8:30 p.m.

Featuring members of the Talent Scholarship Teen Theater Ensemble, selections from the Berks 24 hour Play Festival and other special guests for an evening of laughter and spontaneity.

Tickets: Pay what you want, suggested $10

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Barrio Alegría presents: … But we are still here!
February 12, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.

Storytelling through dance. This community engagement project takes the form of a movement theater performance. Using the framework of classic fairy tales, presenters integrate social justice issues to start and continue conversations in our community. The project creates a space for community members to learn leadership skills, explore self-limiting beliefs, occupy spaces they don’t naturally see themselves in, and build a better world.

… But we are still here! brings the Three Little Pigs to a new world where they must help a family struggling with work issues, relationship issues, and community resilience. After the Three Little Pigs lose their home and are forced to do community service, they head to Candela and Adela. But will they arrive in time to help? Through love and humor, anything is possible!

Tickets: Pay what you want, suggested $10

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Something Beautiful, Cabaret with Corinna Sowers Adler
February 12, 2022 at 8:00 PM
February 13, 2022 at 3:00 PM

Considered “one of New York’s finest voices,” Corinna Sowers Adler returns to Berks County with Something Beautiful, which debuted at Lincoln Center’s Jazz at Appel Room. Filled with magical songs, this magnificent event incorporates well-known and lesser-known songs spanning genres from country to pop to Broadway. Corinna Sowers Adler will fascinate and delight while packing an emotional punch with the songs of Something Beautiful.

Corinna, a Tony Award nominee for Excellence in Theater Education, includes a chorus of teenage singers in Something Beautiful. Local young adults from across Berks County will join the artist on stage to share their voices to uplift, remind, and encourage us all to bring and be “something beautiful” in this world. Joining Corinna on stage are young local singers Maggie Angstadt, Hailey Firek, Oliver Houck, Katie Kreska, Jacinda Motley, Kailey Reinboth and Maggie Smedley.

Accompanied by Stephen Murphy on piano, Wilhelmus Sapanaro on bass and Michael Advensky on drums. Sowers-Adler delivers a musical journey. Something Beautiful will touch your heart, lift your soul and make you want to dance. “Look out for future performance dates of her to be announced, and if those dates include Something Beautiful, run, don’t walk to see it. It will touch your heart, lift your soul, and make you want to dance. – The Huffington Post

Tickets: $20 adults, $15 students

Corinna practicing with the young singers

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Garba-Raas folk dance and art workshop
February 12, 2022 at 1:00 p.m.

Participants will have the opportunity to paint and decorate their sticks which they will use in the Garba-Raas. Garba is a dance based on a circular pattern with hand movements. Raas is a line dance with sticks. Garba-Raas is a folk dance from the Indian state of Gujarat which is popularly performed during the Hindu festival of Navratri and other special occasions such as weddings.

Tickets: Pay what you want, suggested $10

Scheduled event:

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11
7:00 p.m.: Elephant & Piggie’s We’re in a play!
Sleepover !
8:30 p.m.: Improvisation evening, guaranteed laughter
With selections from the 24 hour Play Festival

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 12
11:00 Elephant & Piggie’s We’re in a play!
After-show dance party!
1:00 p.m. Garba-Raas folk dance and art workshop
4:00 p.m. Barrio Alegría presents:… but we are still here!
Storytelling through dance
20:00 Something Beautiful, Cabaret with Corinna Sowers Adler
Featuring local high school artists

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 13
11:00 Elephant & Piggie’s We’re in a play!
1:00 p.m. Elephant & Piggie’s We’re in a play!
Sensory performance
15:00 Something Beautiful, Cabaret with Corinna Sowers Adler

Tickets: Tickets are on sale now, prices vary. Tickets can be purchased online at YocumInstitute.orgstop by the Yocum Institute reception at 3000 Penn Ave, West Lawn or call 610.376.1576.

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