The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 25, 2009

Children's show | 'Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon' coming to arts center


BY RUTH RICE

RRICE@TRIBDEM.COM

A play based on the first of a series of beloved children’s books will draw young audiences into the story.

The Stage Door Series for children opens its season with “The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon” at 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Oct. 6 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

In the play, Harold, a toddler, draws whatever he wants to see with his magic purple crayon.

When there is no moon in the sky or a path to walk on, Harold draws them and is on his way to a new adventure.

Landis Smith, executive director of Enchantment Theatre Co., one of America’s most innovative producers of original theater works for children and families, said “The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon” was first published in 1955.

There are six other books in the series written by Crockett Johnson, and the theater company has the rights to use five of them for its shows.

Harold’s artistic ability will be transferred to the stage by the use of video projected animation, Smith said.

“We’re using this for the first time,” he added.

“It gives a visual sense of what is in his imagination. The audience will see what Harold draws on the screen, then he will interact with what he creates.”

Harold also has to deal with the consequences of what he creates.

When he falls from a mountain he drew, he draws a large balloon with a basket to catch himself, and when he draws water, he has to make a boat to save himself from drowning.

“It’s about growing up and interacting with your environment,” Smith said.

“He becomes the author of his life instead of being dependent.”

Harold also goes to Mars, where he encounters a Martian, and creates a circus, where he becomes a clown and a lion tamer.

“It is also about imagination and creativity,” Smith said.

“He becomes a player in the world and exercises his will.”

There are no other people in the production, but five performers will help Harold depict what happens through the use of life-size puppets, masks, magic and music.

Smith said the play is geared toward children ages 3 through fourth-graders, but adults will enjoy it, too.

“A lot of the adults will get things that children don’t,” he said.

Enchantment Theatre Co. is based in Philadelphia and is telling the story of Harold’s imagination from coast to coast.

“They’ve done more than 130 performances in 35 states,” Smith said.



Series

What: “The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon.”

When: 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Oct. 6.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

Tickets: $5.

Information: 269-7200 or (800) 846-2787.